Hawthorne: My Kinsman, Goodman Brown Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1405 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

SAMPLE EXCERPT . . .
Is he imagining, or is this a true journey?

Brown tries to resist the advances of the devil, recalling his family's righteousness: "My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians, since the days of the martyrs. And shall I be the first of the name of Brown that ever took this path and kept." However, this "good" memory is quickly taken away as the fellow traveler recalls the other side of Goodman's family:

helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem. And it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip's War. They my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight. I would fain be friends with you, for their sake.

Goodman Brown's belief in the spiritual and religious leaders is also negated: He watches as the town's minister and Deacon Gookin, identified as one of his spiritual mentors, pass by, discussing some meeting in the forest that night at which "there is a goodly young woman to be taken into communion."

Finally, the worst occurs. He notes numerous church-members of Salem village, famous for their spiritual ways....

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But, irreverently consorting with these grave, reputable, and pious people, these elders of the church, these chaste dames and dewy virgins, there were men of dissolute lives and women of spotted fame, wretches given over to all mean and filthy vice, and suspected even of horrid crimes. It was strange to see, that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints.

This is too much for Brown to bear. He shouts for them to beware of the devil. "Depending upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream! Now are ye undeceived! Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome, again, my children, to the communion of your race!" And to "Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!"

Term Paper on Hawthorne: My Kinsman, Goodman Brown Assignment

He believes that since all of those who represent the values of the society that produces this morality will soon be exposed as being in league with the devil themselves.

On his journey, imagined or real -- "Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest, and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?" -- he can only find darkness, the distrust of his neighbors and friends, and ministers. It is impossible to find redemption in such a Puritanical world with its witch trials and unbending rules, Hawthorne is saying. Puritanism can only be viewed as a continuing life of misery where man can never find his inner self and self-esteem, but only feel depraved and unworthy. A person cannot be a functioning part of a society, because he/she is so overwhelmed by the religious burden.

Goodman, like Robin, was offered another life very different from his previous one. Robin had the opportunity to leave the country and embark on an exciting venture as an entrepreneur, which may or may not succeed. Goodman Brown had the chance to shed his puritanical and overbearing past and accept the truth about humankind in all its shades of grey. Robin, it is believed, will make his way even if with uncertainty and some failure. However, Goodman is unable to shake his cloak:

Often, awakening suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith, and at morning or eventide, when the family knelt down at prayer, he scowled, and muttered to himself, and gazed sternly at his wife, and turned away. And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave, a hoary corpse, followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grand-children, a goodly procession, besides neighbors, not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tomb-stone; for his dying hour was gloom.

References

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "My Kinsman, Major Molineux" 1832.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown." 1835. [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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