Rigidity of Puritanism Exposed in Young Goodman Brown
Proverbs 10:28 implies the idea of the universality of sin in
saying "The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked
come to nothing." In "Young Goodman Brown", Nathaniel Hawthorne
illustrates this through Brown's actions. When Brown lives a righteous
life with good faith, his thoughts remain pure and happy. He has a
wonderful wife, and he enjoys the presence of everyone. As he takes his
walk into the forest and into evil ways, his hopes and faith disappear. He
no longer loves his wife in the same way, and he despises everyone whom
people consider were holy. When he loses his faith, he loses his happiness.
To regain his happiness, Brown must find his righteousness again.
Puritans believe there is no hope for a sinner. Hawthorne uses a variety
of writing techniques to condemn the rigidity of Puritanism.
For example, Hawthorne uses a wide variety of diction to create a
mystical and hopeless mood. As Brown walks into the "dreary" forest, an "
uncertain" feeling comes over him as he looks ahead to the "gloom" awaiting
him. The forest is very dark and dreary and these words help create the
eerie mood. These words create an insecure and unsure feeling in the
reader's mind. The reader feels as if he stands right there on the
outskirts of the forest along with Brown. That type of feeling scares even
the bravest of men. Hawthorne also describes the events taking place in
the forest as "devilish," "horrid," and "evil." Evil completely surrounds
Brown in the forest. It puts a thought in him which drives him crazy.
These words give a very insecure feeling to the reader. No one likes the
feeling of evil, which Hawthorne portrays all throughout the story. The
evil feeling adds to the dreary mood, and it also gives a hopeless feeling
to the reader. Nothing good comes out of evil, and these words tell the
reader that something horrible might happen. He then describes Brown as "
stern," or "sad," or even a "desperate man," who needs help. Brown's
experiences horrify him. They eventually change him to a stern and sad man.
He can never see his friends and loved ones the same. When you think of
hopelessness, disparity often comes to mind. Brown feels desperate and
hopeless about his future. He doesn't know what to do about this nightmare.
The thought of losing his wonderful past frightens him.
Also, symbolism plays a large role in promoting the idea of
universal capacity for sin. For instance, the name alone of Young Goodman
Brown stands for every Puritan man. He, like all others, must eventually
face sin. Brown's wife Faith also represents belief in Calvinism. When
his passion and love for his wife rage like a fire, his faith rages as well.
Both his faith...