Young Goodman Brown and Morality Issues Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1367 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature

Young Goodman Brown and Morality Issues

Goodman Brown - through author Nathaniel Hawthorne - offers a foreshadowing of what is to happen in this story on page 10, as he walks away from his loving, darling bride of three months. "What a wretch I am to leave her on such an errand!" There was even "trouble" detected on her face, he says, "as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight." It would "kill her to think" what is going on, he believes.

Right away, on this first page of the short story, a morality issue is at play, as the protagonist is leaving an idyllic loving family scene for something secretive and dark; the reader does not yet know what lurks in the night for Brown, but the juxtaposition of the two moods - choosing between sweetness (good) for an "evil purpose," leaving light (pink) for the dark - is enough to set the tone. And the tone is morality.

It is worth mentioning that Nathanial Hawthorne was born and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, the site of the famous witch hunts and witch trials; his family history is generously populated with Puritans, and these fact play roles in his Young Goodman Brown story.

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But meanwhile there are several issues to be resolved by the reader; one of the key questions for this paper is, how does the author expect the reader to interpret the question of good and evil? To answer that, it seems from the start that Brown is obsessed with purity, and has apparently fallen into a delusion, which allows him to make this weird, satanic-themed pilgrimage, which maybe he didn't take at all, in reality. Maybe the author set this up as a dream sequence, to show that all humans have a dark side, and sometimes people have no choice but to walk that dark side and investigate it.

Term Paper on Young Goodman Brown and Morality Issues Goodman Assignment

Going to church as youngsters, most citizens learn there is God, and there is the Devil, and we must watch out that the Devil doesn't grab our attention and change our lives in the dark direction that the Devil wants us to go. Perhaps this is Hawthorne's point in the book, or at least it could be a sub-theme, a sidebar story as an important ingredient to the whole story. Hawthorne's writing often involved choices that the main characters had to make - and thus, the reader must make them too.

The "snakelike staff actually seemed to wriggle in sympathy" with the elder traveler's "irrepressible mirth," on page 12; this is in response to Goodman Brown's obvious guilt at the thought of seeing his pastor at church after trekking with this devilish old man. And meanwhile, as these events are occurring, the ambiguity within the framework of this story keeps the reader wondering if this is real, or imagined; but it doesn't really matter whether Brown actually was part of this macabre scene or not, because the message of the author is clearly compelling, and stories, like Biblical miracles, don't have to have been "true" to have poignancy that causes readers to think deeply.

All people meet the Devil in some place or some form at some time, and it is always a morality scene whether the temptation to sin is actually carried out or not. It may be a man on a business trip being tempted by a seductive woman in a bar to cheat on his wife; he knows it's wrong, he dearly loves his wife, and after he carries out his tryst, he has strong guilt feelings that shake his moral fiber for a long time. Or it could be a little boy hanging out in a convenience store, tempted to steal a candy bar when no one was looking; he was raised to be honest, but he covets that Hershey candy bar and wants to see what it feels like to be on the side of thieves for once.

In the end, good-hearted, moral people feel terrible guilt after doing something immoral, and nearly always wish they had resisted the temptation.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Young Goodman Brown and Morality Issues.  (2005, February 15).  Retrieved October 1, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/young-goodman-brown-morality-issues/584897

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"Young Goodman Brown and Morality Issues."  Essaytown.com.  February 15, 2005.  Accessed October 1, 2020.
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