There are times when religion and innocence are questioned. Some individuals may argue that heritage can be a choosing factor in how faith can play a significant role in how we see one another. The story Young Goodman Brown was the result of Hawthorne’s experience through his young the adult years, which was greatly affected by the historical background of his household.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, to a household of Puritan colonists. Hawthorne’s paternal distant grandpa, John Hathorne, whom was a judge in the Salem Witch Trials, bothered Nathaniel so much, that he added the W to his surname to separate himself from the family.
1 Some readers might argue after reading this story, understanding the history of the Salem Witch Trials, and understanding things about Nathaniel Hawthorne, he showed the hypocrisy of the Puritan faith through the occasions that took place throughout the story.
One example of how Hawthorne’s heritage, particularly the background of the “judge,” played a role in the story through occasions that took place, was at the beginning of the story when Brown, the primary character, met with the traveler, likewise called the “devil,” and found that the devil had actually potentially been affiliated with his family. 2 Brown specified in the story that he was “surprised that his household had actually never ever mentioned this, since if report had made its method to the town that the family was connected with the devil, they would have cast them from New England,” just as the individuals in the Salem Witch Trials were hanged, because they were believed to be associated with the devil, and using the Devil’s Magic.
Hawthorne utilized his experience with the Puritan background in the story, with the description of the woods as being a dark location, portraying that the “woods” is where the devil resided, and that the “woods” is where wicked deeds took place.3 Hawthorne likewise utilized the sounds of the creaking of trees, the howling of wild beasts, and the yell of Indians that Brown heard, as another method to show that wicked resided in the woods.
The Puritans’ belief was that the devil was accountable for every wicked deed that took place, whether it was through witchcraft, or through rituals thought to be hellish.5 An example of this was the routine that the devil performed towards completion of the story to try and convert Brown and his other half from the Puritan belief.6 Another example of how Hawthorne’s heritage and the Puritan belief were portrayed in the story, was revealed when Brown was explaining his viewpoint of Goody Cloyse, and of his dad.
He stated in the story that he was amazed that Goody remained in the woods, especially at night. Brown made the statement, “A marvel, really that Goody Cloyse need to be so far in the wilderness at nightfall.” Brown had also made a comment previously in the story about his daddy being truthful and an excellent Christian by mentioning, “My dad never entered into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of sincere males and great Christians considering that the days of the martyrs.”
Brown believed highly of both of his daddy and fellow associate, Goody, and thought they were both strong in their faith. Whether or not all the occasions that occurred throughout the story were a dream or reality for Brown, Hawthorne used the devil’s ritual to expose that even the great Puritan townspeople that Brown idea were superior than he, are apt to dedicate sin. Hawthorne also revealed that faith can play a role in how we view one another.
Functions Pointed out
( 1) Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. New England: New England Publication, 1835. Pgs. 1131-1141 in Making Literature Matter (2) Blumberg, Jess. “A Quick History of The Salem Witch Trials.” Smithsonian.com: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/brief-salem.html, 2007. (3) White, Ellen Brooks. “Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Salem.” Miscellany: Life and Literature: http://allthingsliterary.wordpress.com/2009/10/31/nathaniel-hawthornes-salem/, 2012-2013.