Nathaniel Hawthornes Story Young Goodman Brown English Literature Essay

This paper is a theory-based critical analysis of “ Young Goodman Brown ” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This paper is intended to turn to the nature of human being, particularly the goodness and badness of Man. To carry through this purpose, I used the theory of Yin-Yang ; because it illustrates the nature of Man good. Yin and Yang although refer to two opposing facets of objects, they are non independent. I believe that, the same is the human nature. Everyone has both the white and the dark side in his nature, the of import thing is that how to supply a balance between these two dependent facets. On the other side I considered the puritans` society and presented some mentions from the narrative.

In the 19th century, American authors, including Nathaniel Hawthorne, were influenced by the European Romantic motion but added their ain chauvinistic turn. The most celebrated European Romantics included William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and William Blake. The features of the motion, which began in Germany at the beginning of the 18th century, included an involvement in the power of the person ; an compulsion with utmost experiences, including fright, love, and horror ; an involvement in nature and natural landscapes ; and an accent on the importance of mundane events. Some authors in America who drew from the Romantic tradition were James Fenimore Cooper, Washington Irving, and the transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson. American Romantics in the early 19th century tended to observe the American landscape and stress the thought of the sublime, which glorified their beautiful place state. They besides created the construct of an American Romantic hero, who frequently lived entirely in the wilderness, near to the land, such as Cooper ‘s Leatherstocking or Thoreau himself at Walden Pond.

“ Young Goodman Brown ” fits into a subgenre of American Romanticism: the Gothic or dark love affair. Novels and narratives of this type characteristic graphic descriptions of morbid or glooming events, coupled with emotional or psychological torture. The dark Romantics joined the Romantic motion ‘s accent on emotion and appendage with a Gothic esthesia, trusting to make narratives that would travel readers to fear and oppugn their milieus. Edgar Allen Poe, who wrote “ The Fall of the House of Usher ” ( 1839 ) and “ The Tell-Tale Heart ” ( 1843 ) , was likely the most celebrated of the authors to work in the American dark Romantic genre. Goodman Brown ‘s brush with the Satan and conflict with the immorality within himself are both authoritative elements of a dark Romance.

Hawthorne foremost published “ Young Goodman Brown ” anonymously in New England magazine in 1835 and once more under his ain name in his short-story aggregation Mosss from an Old Manse in 1846. Like most of the narratives in Mosses, “ Young Goodman Brown ” examines Hawthorne ‘s favourite subjects: the loss of spiritual religion, presence of enticement, and societal ailments of Puritan communities. These subjects, along with the narrative ‘s dark, phantasmagoric stoping, make “ Young Goodman Brown ” one of the Hawthorne ‘s most popular short narratives. The narrative is frequently seen as a precursor to the novels Hawthorne wrote later in his life, including The Scarlet Letter ( 1850 ) , The House of the Seven Gables ( 1851 ) , The Blithedale Romance ( 1852 ) , and The Marble Faun ( 1860 ) .

3. Statement of the Problem

The issue that my analysis seeks to turn to the nature of human existences and the ground that leads to its autumn. The same as what happened to the supporter of the narrative, “ Young Goodman Brown ” who entered the “ dark wood, ” and lost his religion.

4. Justification for my theoretical attack

Yin and yang represent two opposite facets of every object and its inexplicit struggle and mutuality. By and large, anything that is traveling, go uping, bright, progressing, overactive, including functional disease of the organic structure, pertains to yang. The features of hush, falling, darkness, devolution, hypoactivity, including organic disease, pertain to yin.

The nature of yin and yang is comparative. Harmonizing to Yin-Yang theory, everything in the existence can be divided into the two antonyms but complementary facets of yin and yang and so on infinitum.

I assume that this theory would assist to crystal clear the nature of homo, the goodness and badness of people such Young Goodman Brown and the people in his society. Furthermore, I would look at the puritan society of his clip, through the Puritanism.

5. Analysis

In the beginning, I would mention to the history of Puritanism and present some mentions to the narrative:

The History of Puritanism

In “ Young Goodman Brown, ” Hawthorne mentions three dark events from the Puritans ‘ history: the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, the Puritan intolerance of the Quakers, and King Philip ‘s War. During the Salem Witch Trials, one of the most bloodcurdling episodes in Puritan history, the villagers of Salem killed 25 guiltless people who were accused of being enchantresss. The enchantress Hunts frequently involved accusals based on retaliation, green-eyed monster, botched child bringing, and other grounds that had small to make with sensed witchery. The Puritan intolerance of Religious society of friendss occurred during the 2nd half of the 17th century. Puritans and Quakers both settled in America, trusting to happen spiritual freedom and get down their ain settlements where they could believe what they wanted to. However, Puritans began prohibiting Religious society of friendss from settling in their towns and made it illegal to be a Quaker ; their intolerance shortly led to imprisonments and hangings. King Philip ‘s War, the concluding event referenced in Hawthorne ‘s narrative, took topographic point from 1675 to 1676 and was really a series of little brushs between Indians and settlers. Indians attacked settlers at frontier towns in western Massachusetts, and settlers retaliated by busting Indian small towns. When the settlers won the war, the balance of power in the settlements eventually tipped wholly toward the Puritans.

These historical events are non at the centre of “ Young Goodman Brown, ” which takes topographic point after they occur, but they do inform the action. For illustration, Hawthorne appropriates the names of Goody Cloyse and Martha Carrier, two of the “ enchantresss ” killed at Salem, for townsfolk in his narrative. The devil refers to seeing Goodman Brown ‘s gramps floging a Friend in the streets and passing Goodman Brown ‘s male parent a bally torch so that he could put fire to an Indian small town during King Philip ‘s War. By including these mentions, Hawthorne reminds the reader of the doubtful history of Salem Village and the bequest of the Puritans and emphasizes the historical roots of Goodman Brown ‘s captivation with the Satan and the dark side.

In “ Young Goodman Brown, ” Hawthorne reveals what he sees as the corruptibility that consequences from Puritan society ‘s accent on public morality, which frequently weakens private spiritual religion. Although Goodman Brown has decided to come into the wood and meet with the Satan, he still hides when he sees Goody Cloyse and hears the curate and Deacon Gookin. He seems more concerned with how his religion appears to other people than with the fact that he has decided to run into with the Satan. Goodman Brown ‘s spiritual strong beliefs are rooted in his belief that those around him are besides spiritual. This sort of religion, which depends so much on other people ‘s positions, is easy weakened. When Goodman Brown discovers that his male parent, gramps, Goody Cloyse, the curate, Deacon Gookin, and Faith are all in conference with the Satan, Goodman Brown rapidly decides that he might every bit good do the same. Hawthorne seems to propose that the danger of establishing a society on moral rules and spiritual religion lies in the fact that members of the society do non get at their ain moral determinations. When they copy the beliefs of the people around them, their faith becomes weak and rootless.

In the 2nd measure, I am traveling to discourse about the Fall of Man in “ Young Goodman Brown ” ; nevertheless, before that, I would show a description of the theory of Yin-Yang.

The Theory of Yin-Yang

Ancient Chinese people were greatly interested in the relationships and forms that occurred in nature. Alternatively of analyzing stray things, they viewed the universe as a harmonious and holistic entity. In their eyes, no individual being or signifier could be unless it was seen in relation to its environing environment. By simplifying these relationships, they tried to explicate complicated phenomena in the existence. Yin yang theory is a sort of logic, which views things in relation to its whole. The theory is based on two basic constituents: yin and yang, which are neither stuffs nor energy. They combine in a complementary mode and organize a method for explicating relationships between objects. Gradually, this logic was developed into a system of idea that was applied to other countries. Traditional Chinese Medicine ( TCM ) is an illustration of one country where the yin yang theory is used to understand complicated relationships in the organic structure.

The original construct of yin and yang came from the observation of nature and the environment. “ Yin ” originally referred to the fly-by-night side of a incline while “ yang ” referred to the cheery side. Subsequently, this thought was used in understanding other happenings, which occurred in brace and had complementary and opposing features in nature. Some illustrations include: sky and Earth, twenty-four hours and dark, H2O and fire, active and inactive, male and female and so on. Working with these thoughts, ancient people recognized about all things could hold yin and yang belongingss. Yin and yang can depict two comparative facets of the same phenomena such as the illustration of the incline, or they can depict two different objects like sky and Earth. Normally, yang is associated with energetic qualities. For illustration, motion, outward and upward way, heat, brightness, stimulation, activity and exhilaration are all yang qualities. Yin, on the other manus, is associated with the physical signifier of an object and has less energetic qualities such as remainder, inward and downward way, cold, darkness, condensation, suppression, and nutriment.

See Table below for a description of yin and yang features:

Examples of Yin Yang Pairs



















Physiological maps




Harmonizing to this theory, Yin -Yang are complementary antonyms that interact within a greater whole, as portion of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang facets, but either of these facets may attest more strongly in peculiar objects, and may ebb or flux over clip. The construct of yin and yang is frequently symbolized by assorted signifiers of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is likely best known in western civilizations.

There is a perceptual experience, particularly in the West, that yin and yang correspond to good and evil but non severally. However, Taoist doctrine by and large discounts good/bad differentiations and other dichotomous moral judgements, in penchant to the thought of balance. Confucianism ( most notably the doctrine of Dong Zhongshu, circa the 2nd century BCE ) did attach a moral dimension to the thought of yin and yang, but the modern sense of the term mostly stems from Buddhist versions of Taoist doctrine ( Taylor, Rodney Leon ( 2005 ) . The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Confucianism, Vol. 2. New York: Rosen Publishing Group. p.A 869 ) .

The nature of yin-yang

In Taoist doctrine, yin and yang arise together from an initial dormancy or emptiness ( wuji, sometimes symbolized by an empty circle ) , and go on traveling in tandem until dormancy is reached once more. For case, dropping a rock in a unagitated pool of H2O will at the same time raise moving ridges and lower troughs between them, and this alternation of high and low points in the H2O will radiate outward until the motion dissipates and the pool is unagitated one time more. Yin and yang are therefore are ever opposite and equal qualities. Further, whenever one quality reaches its extremum, it will of course get down to transform into the opposite quality: for illustration, grain that reaches its full tallness in summer ( to the full yang ) will bring forth seeds and decease back in winter ( to the full yin ) in an eternal rhythm.

It is impossible to speak about yin or yang without some mention to the antonym, since yin and yang are bound together as parts of a common whole ( i.e. you can non hold the dorsum of a manus without the forepart ) . A manner to exemplify this thought is to contend the impression of a race with lone work forces or lone adult females ; this race would vanish in a individual coevals. Yet, work forces and adult females together create new coevalss that allow the race they reciprocally create ( and reciprocally come from ) to last. The interaction of the two gives birth to things ( hypertext transfer protocol: // ) . Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every progress is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a autumn. Therefore, a seed will shoot from the Earth and turn upwards towards the sky – an per se yang motion. Then, when it reaches its full possible tallness, it will fall.

Religious and philosophical importance

The Taijitu and construct of the Zhou period range into household and gender dealingss. Yin is female and yang is male. They fit together as two parts of a whole.From a philosophical point of view practicians of Zen Yoga see yin-yang as a flow. The Taijitu is one of the oldest and best-known life symbols in the universe, but few understand its full significance. It represents one of the most cardinal and profound theories of ancient Taoist doctrine. At its bosom are the two poles of being, which are opposite but complementary. The visible radiation, white Yang traveling up blends into the dark, black Yin traveling down. Yin and Yang are dependent opposing forces that flow in a natural rhythm, ever seeking balance. Though they are opposing, they are non in resistance to one another. As portion of the Tao, they are simply two facets of a individual world. Each contains the seed of the other, which is why we see a black topographic point of Yin in the white Yang and frailty versa. They do non simply replace each other but really go each other through the changeless flow of the existence ( Hoopes, Aaron ( 2007 ) . Zen Yoga: A Path to Enlightenment though Breathing, Movement and Meditation. Kodansha International ) .

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Social Goodness

I assume that the large error of Young Goodman Brown was his over swearing to his society and the spiritual people. As he gets shocked when the traveler tells him:

“ Evil or non, ” said the traveler with the distorted staff, “ I have a really general familiarity here in New England. The deacons of many a church have drunk the Communion vino with me ; the selectmen of frogmans towns make me their president ; and a bulk of the Great and General Court are steadfast protagonists of my involvement. The governor and I, excessively — But these are province secrets. ”

“ Can this be so? ” cried Goodman Brown, with a stare of astonishment at his undisturbed comrade. “ Howbeit, I have nil to make with the governor and council ; they have their ain ways, and are no regulation for a simple farmer like me. But, were I to travel on with thee, how should I run into the oculus of that good old adult male, our curate, at Salem small town? Oh, his voice would do me tremble both Sabbath twenty-four hours and talk twenty-four hours. “ This implies that he even does non make bold to believe of his governor to be incorrect.

System Slavery

As a affair of fact, Young Goodman Brown was the slave of his society because he had no criterions for his judgement, in other word, he was fed by his society and authorities ; as it is said:

“ Have a system for yourself, unless would be the slave of the others. ”

I personally believe that everyone should happen God in his ain manner and for themselves non by the nutrient of the society or people.

Significance of Analysis

From the minute he steps into the forest, Goodman Brown voices his fright of the wilderness, seeing the wood as a topographic point where no good is possible. In this he echoes the dominant point of position of seventeenth-century Puritans, who believed that the wild New World was something to fear and so rule. Goodman Brown, like other Puritans, associates the wood with the wild “ Indians ” and sees one concealment behind every tree. He believes that the Satan could easy be present in such a place-and he finally sees the Satan himself, merely as he had expected. He considers it a affair of household award that his sires would ne’er hold walked in the wood for pleasance, and he is disquieted when the Satan tells him that this was non the instance. He himself is ashamed to be seen walking in the wood and fells when Goody Cloyse, the curate, and Deacon Gookin base on balls. The wood is characterized as diabolic, terrorization, and dark, and Goodman Brown is comfy in it merely after he has given in to evil.

Female pureness, a favourite construct of Americans in the 19th century, is the calming force for Goodman Brown as he wonders whether to abdicate his faith and fall in the Satan. When he takes leave of Faith at the beginning of the narrative, he swears that after this one dark of transgression, he will keep onto her skirts and go up to heaven. This thought, that a adult male ‘s married woman or female parent will deliver him and make the work of true spiritual belief for the whole household, was popular during Hawthorne ‘s clip. Goodman Brown clings to the thought of Faith ‘s pureness throughout his tests in the wood, cursing that every bit long as Faith remains holy, he can happen it in himself to defy the Satan. When Goodman Brown finds that Faith is present at the ceremonial, it changes all his thoughts about what is good or bad in the universe, taking away his strength and ability to defy. Female pureness was such a powerful thought in Puritan New England that work forces relied on adult females ‘s religion to shore up their ain. When even Faith ‘s pureness dissolves, Goodman Brown loses any opportunity to defy the Satan and deliver his religion.

Hypocrisy of the Puritan society

“ But, irreverently associating with these grave, reputable, and pious people, these seniors of the church, these chaste dolls and dewy virgins, there were work forces of dissolute lives and adult females of patched celebrity, wretches given over to all mean and foul frailty, and suspected even of horrid offenses. It was unusual to see that the good shrank non from the wicked, nor were the evildoers abashed by the saints. ”

In this transition, which appears midway through the narrative, Goodman Brown sees the ceremonial and the dark side of Salem Village. The evildoing of societal boundaries is one of the most confusing and disconcerting facets of the ceremonial. The Puritans had made a society that was really much based on morality and faith, in which position came from holding a high standing in the church and a high moral repute among other townsfolk. When Goodman Brown tells the Satan at the beginning of the narrative that he is proud of his male parent and gramps ‘s high ethical motives and spiritual strong beliefs, he is depicting how the society in which he lives values these traits above all others. When Goodman Brown sees the mingling of these two different types of people at the ceremonial, he is horrified: the ceremonial reveals the dislocation of the societal order, which he believed was ironclad. Hawthorne is indicating out the lip service of a society that prides itself on its moral standing and makes castawaies of people who do non populate up to its criterions.

The Fall of Man

Young Goodman Brown ” maps as an fable of the autumn of adult male, from which Hawthorne draws to exemplify what he sees as the built-in fallibility and lip service in American faith. Hawthorne sets up a narrative of a adult male who is tempted by the Satan and succumbs because of his wonder and the failing of his religion. Like Eve in the book of Genesis, Goodman Brown can non assist himself from desiring to cognize what lies behind the enigma of the wood. And like Eve, Goodman Brown is rewarded for his wonder with information that changes his life for the worse. In the class of the ceremonial in the wood, the Satan tells Goodman Brown and Faith that their eyes will now be opened to the evil of themselves and those around them. Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden and forced to undergo all the tests and trials of being human, and Goodman Brown returns from the wood to happen that the joy in life has been taken off from him. He has become leery of those around him, even the adult female he one time loved.

The Staff

The Satan ‘s staff, which is encircled by a carven snake, draws from the scriptural symbol of the snake as an evil devil. In the Book of Genesis, the snake tempts Eve to savor the fruit from the out tree, withstanding God ‘s will and conveying his wrath upon humanity. When the Satan tells Goodman Brown to utilize the staff to travel faster, Goodman Brown takes him up on the offer and, like Eve, is finally condemned for his failing by losing his artlessness. Besides stand foring Eve ‘s enticement, the snake represents her wonder, which leads her into that enticement. Goodman Brown ‘s determination to come into the wood is motivated by wonder, as was Eve ‘s determination to eat the out fruit. The staff makes clear that the old adult male is more demon than human and that Goodman Brown, when he takes the staff for himself, is on the way toward immorality every bit good.

Faith ‘s Pink Ribbons

The pink threads that Faith puts in her cap represent her pureness. The colour pink is associated with artlessness and merriment, and threads themselves are a modest, guiltless ornament. Hawthorne references Faith ‘s pink threads several times at the beginning of the narrative, permeating her character with juvenility and felicity. He reintroduces the threads when Goodman Brown is in the wood, fighting with his uncertainties about the goodness of the people he knows. When the pink thread wavers down from the sky, Goodman Brown perceives it as a mark that Faith has decidedly fallen into the kingdom of the devil-she has shed this mark of her pureness and artlessness. At the terminal of the narrative, when Faith greets Goodman Brown as he returns from the wood, she is have oning her pink threads once more, proposing her return to the figure of artlessness she presented at the beginning of the narrative and projecting uncertainties on the veracity of Goodman Brown ‘s experiences.

In the narrative, Faith both refers to Goodman Brown`s married woman and his religion. We see that in the terminal of the narrative, when Faith greets him he does non answer because he has lost both his religion and his love to his married woman.

Devil`s enticements

“ On he flew among the black pines, flourishing his staff with manic gestures, now giving blowhole to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting Forth such laughter as set all the reverberations of the forest laughing like devils around him. The monster in his ain form is less horrid than when he rages in the chest of adult male. ”

This transition, in which Goodman Brown gives up on seeking defying the Satan ‘s enticements, takes up the Satan ‘s staff, and makes his manner toward the ceremonial, appears about a 3rd of the manner into the narrative. It suggests that some of the shame and horror Goodman Brown feels when he returns to Salem Village may come from his feeling of failing at holding succumbed to evil. Goodman Brown resists the Satan while he still believes that assorted members of his household and community are godly, but when he is shown, one by one, that they are all retainers of the Satan, he gives in to his dark side wholly and catch the Satan ‘s staff. The alteration that comes over him after either waking up from his dream or returning from the ceremonial can be explained partly by his shame at holding fallen so rapidly and dramatically into immorality.

“ … Equally about as could be discerned, the 2nd traveller was about 50 old ages old, seemingly in the same rank of life, as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance to him, Though possibly more in look than characteristics. ”

Harmonizing to the Yin-Yang theory, the Satan is a portion of human existences and that was true for Goodman Brown excessively.

“ By the understanding of your human Black Marias for wickedness ye shall odorize out all the places-whether in church, bedroom, street, field, or forest-where offense has been committed, and shall walk on air to lay eyes on the whole Earth one discoloration of guilt, one mighty blood topographic point. ”

Near the terminal of the narrative, the Satan promises Goodman Brown and Faith that they ‘ll hold a new mentality on life, one that emphasizes the sinning nature of all humanity, and condemns Goodman Brown to a life of fright and indignation at the behaviors of his fellow adult male. This dark position of life is a complete turnaround from the thoughts that Goodman Brown had held at the beginning of the narrative. Then, he thought of his household as godly ; Faith as absolutely pure ; and the Reverend, Deacon, and Goody Cloyse as theoretical accounts of morality. The Satan finally shows him that his positions are naA?ve and gives him the ability to see the dark side in any human context. When Goodman Brown returns to the small town, he trusts no 1. As the Satan ‘s address suggests, Goodman Brown has seen the immorality in every homo, and one time he has started seeing it, he can non halt.


It is ill-defined whether the brush in the wood was a dream, but for the remainder of his life, Goodman Brown is changed. He does non swear anyone in his small town, can non believe the words of the curate, and does non to the full love his married woman. He lives the balance of his life in somberness and fright.

Young Goodman Brown lost his religion because he invariably judged the others by the criterions of the society non by the criterions of himself. In fact, he had no system for himself. As his name nowadayss, in the beginning he was immature but in the terminal although he was old, he was immature because he did non become completed. It is worthy to be noted that, the narrative begins at sundown that harmonizing to the Yin-Yan Theory could mention to Young Goodman Brown`s ain ego, the darkness and Satan.

The other facet that I considered in my paper was the Puritanism ; Puritans believed that adult male existed for the glorification of God ; that his first concern in life was to make God ‘s will and so to have future felicity ( Morison, Samuel Eliot ( 1972 ) . The Oxford History of the American People. New York City: Mentor. p.A 102A ) . In “ Young Goodman Brown, ” Hawthorne reveals what he sees as the corruptibility that consequences from Puritan society ‘s accent on public morality, which frequently weakens private spiritual religion. Although Goodman Brown has decided to come into the wood and meet with the Satan, he still hides when he sees Goody Cloyse and hears the curate and Deacon Gookin. He seems more concerned with how his religion appears to other people than with the fact that he has decided to run into with the Satan. Goodman Brown ‘s spiritual strong beliefs are rooted in his belief that those around him are besides spiritual. This sort of religion, which depends so much on other people ‘s positions, is easy weakened.

The narrative besides accent on the fact that how the Puritans ‘ rigorous moral codification and overemphasis on the wickedness of world Foster undue intuition and misgiving. Goodman Brown ‘s experience in the forest-whether dream or reality-causes him to lose his religion in others and decease an unhappy adult male. Note the last words of the narrative:

“ They carved no hopeful poetry upon his gravestone ; for his deceasing hr was somberness. “ A

The other subject of the narrative refers to the realisation that immorality can infect people who seem unsloped. Goodman Brown discovers that even extremely well-thought-of people in Salem autumn victim to the forces of darkness. Today-when corporate executives cheat shareholders, politicians lie to win elections, and members of the clergy victimize their congregations-this subject still resonates.A

“ There is no good on Earth, ” Goodman Brown observes, “ and wickedness is but a name. ” In other words, whether an action is good or evil appears to depend on who is sing the action. The fanaticism of a Puritan penalizing a wrongdoer-like Goodman Brown ‘s gramps whipping “ a Quaker adult female so cleverly through the streets ” -might be praised as a merely act by another Puritan but condemned as an inhumane act by non-Puritans. These opposing positions of the same action seem to confound Brown ; he is like a modern adult male who is told that “ everything goes ” or that one moral place is every bit valid as another, opposing one. There are, of class, absolute lesson values which should predominate for everyone, irrespective of their faith or deficiency of it. For illustration, slaying is ever incorrect ; child maltreatment is ever incorrect. However, the devil figure succeeds in confusing Brown on what is genuinely right and what is genuinely wrong.A Finally, One adult male ‘s virtuousness is another adult male ‘s wickedness, and frailty versa.

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