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Support for Calvinistic Faith in “Young Goodman Brown” Anonymous


“‘My Faith is gone!'” (Hawthorne 394) weeps Young Goodman Brown after seeing his wife’s pink ribbon fall from the sky and after that recognizing that humankind is base. Although Faith is the name of Brown’s wife, it is likewise a metaphor for his interior faith in God. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Puritan attitudes towards faith and evil are thoroughly considered by Hawthorne and explained at various levels of depth in the story. Numerous critics have trouble deciding on the general style of this story, however, and there is a combined reaction towards the motives for Hawthorne’s writing of this piece. When examining Puritan theology and the historic context of the narrative, “Young Goodman Brown” is changed into several ethical lessons based on the importance of faith which, in turn, supports Calvinistic beliefs.

The story of Goodman Brown includes many recommendations to scriptural stories and Puritanical beliefs. Although Brown thinks he is an upstanding individual of a respectable family line, he enables his interest to betray his faith. Brown gets here late to his meeting with the evil figure and describes that, “‘Faith kept me back a while'”(Hawthorne 388). Brown hesitates because he understands that his journey with this devilish being is wicked. This story parallels the scriptural story of Adam and Eve and the fall of guy. Although the pair understood it was against the orders of God to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge, Satan lured them into committing sinful acts. This single act decides the fate for the future of mankind as wicked beings, however this was not the only result in the eyes of the Puritans: “the Puritan variation [of the fall of man] goes farther still. Not only humanity however all nature suffered the following catastrophe … What surrounds us, what we consider and commune with, its not nature as it released from the hand of God. It is nature red in tooth and claw, perverted from its initial, the domain of the Prince of Evil and of his topic, natural guy” (Jones 277). Hawthorne includes both of these Puritanical beliefs into his story: he creates a paranoid beast from the when innocent Goodman Brown and the natural setting regresses into a hazardous, unidentified forest of evil. Brown describes the fearful nature of the wilderness after announcing his faith is gone: “The whole forest was peopled with shocking sounds– the creaking of the trees, the howling of the wild beasts, and the scream of Indians” (Hawthorne 395). Although Goodman Brown was confident when participating in the forest with the devilish being, his temptations cause him to lose faith and end up being not sure of humanity and nature. Although this requirement for exploration might be considered as a review of the self-important nature of the Puritans, Hawthorne includes a comparable moral lesson as the scriptural story, in which interest is penalized and faith is the escape from evil.

Furthermore, Hawthorne’s usage of language in explaining Goodman Brown’s journey into the forest shows Puritanical speeches. Although his journey into the forest is an act of curiosity and expedition, Brown describes it as an “errand” on a number of accounts. For example, when Brown discusses leaving Faith, he states, “‘What a miscreant am I to leave her on such an errand!” (Hawthorne 388). By making use of wordplay, Brown attempts to create a martyr out of himself, in efforts to overcome the wicked provided by the devil. He acts as if he needs to leave his religious faith and experience evil before having the ability to end up being totally devoted to God. The word “errand” has historical background in the Puritanical setting: “Suffice it to say that Young Goodman Brown’s ‘errand’ into the wilderness recalls the Puritans’ ‘Errand into the Wilderness,’ a metaphor first articulated in Samuel Danforth’s election sermon of Matt 11, 1670 … [Hawthorne] likewise integrates the root of the Puritans’ identity and business: their self-remarked similarity to the kids of Israel in the wilderness” (Christophersen 203). This also reflects a particular mocking of the contradictory nature of Puritan perfects, because Hawthorne exploits the hypocrisy of his primary character; on the other hand, Hawthorne is supporting the need of faith when entering into an unidentified territory. As would be the concerns of Puritans who intend to settle in numerous new areas, Hawthorne talks about the importance of maintaining a religious stability in order to overcome evil. Unfortunately when it comes to Goodman Brown, he abandons his faith before entering into the wilderness, leaving him prone to the Devil and his evil fans. Therefore, after experiencing the evils of nature and the unknown, Brown returns to civilization as a lost man who is unable to maintain a firm spiritual position.

Hawthorne discusses this lost nature of male in relation to Calvinistic belief too. As Goodman Brown enters the unidentified forest, he thinks that his mental abilities to conquer evil will safeguard him. When he abandons his faith, he is trying to overcome the Devil through his own psychological stability and strength. His belief in himself represents a really various Puritanical belief: “For all insistence on male’s unworthiness, his corrupt nature, male still bears the image of God in some measure engraven on him. He is for that reason, states Calvin, nevertheless lacking in intrinsic merit, a creature of no little dignity and excellence” (Jones 277). Brown’s dignity is detailed plainly by Hawthorne through his effort to get rid of evil without the aid of his faith. Unfortunately, as the reader observes, Brown’s will power and respectability is not sufficient enough to defeat the Devil’s temptations; instead, Brown victimizes himself by deserting his faith and participating in unidentified area. After his experiences in the forest, Hawthorne describes Brown as, “A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate male …”(Hawthorne 399). Goodman Brown becomes lost due to his self-assurance and self-respect and due to his abandonment of faith.

The nature of guy continues to be questioned when Goodman Brown experiences overall wickedness in the forest. He is witness to effective and religious figures from his society participating in numerous kinds of devil worship and witchcraft. Brown’s shock and scary of seeing those he appreciates as active members of this evil cause him to question his own pureness: “Goodman Brown stepped forth from the shadow of the trees and approached the parish, with whom he felt a loathful brotherhood by the sympathy of all that was wicked in his heart” (Hawthorne 397). Although he believed he had the brainpower to get rid of the Devil, Brown joins the crowd due to the innately evil nature of humans. Corresponding to the fall of man parallel in the beginning of the story, Brown completes the final stages of his temptation into evil by ruining his faith: “What [Brown] perceives is in truth the nature of man: he is not incorrect. But because he considers it without the intervening medium of faith, his simply human eyes can see no reality beyond it” (Jones 279-280). This resembles the Puritanical concept of predestination. Although mankind may appear to be faithful beings or upstanding citizens, their fate might be one of wicked and destruction. As Brown experiences wickedness without the help of his faith, his fate is chosen for him because he totally loses his grasp of God: “His implication is that the doctrine of the choose and damned is not a faith which carries male heavenward on its skirts, as Brown when thought, but, rather, condemns him to hell– bad and great alike indiscriminately– and for all intents and functions so few escape as to make on man’s chance of redemption almost vanish” (Connolly 375). Brown’s prearranged experiences with evil has actually caused him to lose his sense of reality and faith and ultimately leads him to damnation. By experiencing the real nature of guy without the help of his faith, Brown’s own nature turns to one of evil.

This balance of evil and faith has been questioned by several critics that try to find a thematic unity within the text. For instance, Connolly thinks that, “not just did [Brown] maintain his faith however throughout his dreadful experience he in fact found the full and frightening significance of his faith” (371 ). Although Hawthorne describes the value of faith in information, Brown’s journey is a regression from the positive, spiritual being he as soon as enjoyed a distrustful, weak male. While he did discover the fact of predestination and man from a spiritual position, his abandonment of faith causes him to become a victim to the evil he experiences. Connolly stops working to address the issues of Brown’s faith before entering into the forest and its slow decline throughout his journey. From the Puritanical viewpoint, Brown’s error is abandoning his faith in order to conquer the evils of his society and of the world. His journey represents the biblical fall of man, which the Puritans believed was the source of all male’s sin.

Although critics have actually disagreed on the motives of Hawthorne’s writing of “Young Goodman Brown,” from a historic viewpoint, the story represents the Calvinistic beliefs typical during that time. While Hawthorne might have intended on assaulting the overbearing and contradictory nature of the Puritans, Goodman Brown is a character that exhibits the ethical corruption caused by a loss of faith. Through several biblical parallels and Puritanical beliefs, Hawthorne highlights that faith is the only protection from the evils of the world and that by checking out the world without spiritual faith, humankind is susceptible to wickedness.

Works Cited

Christophersen, Bill. “‘Young Goodman Brown’ as Historical Allegory: A Lexical Link.” Research Studies in Short Fiction 23.2 (1986 ):202 -204.

Connolly, Thomas E. “Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’: An Attack on Puritanic Calvinism.” American Literature 28.3 (1956 ): 370-375.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. Ed. Wilfred L. Guerin, et al. New York City, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005. 387-400.

Jones, Madison. “Variations on a Hawthorne Theme.” Research Studies in other words Fiction 15.3 (1978 ): 277-283.

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