Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown” follows a special day in Goodman Brown’s life. A member of a respectable and devoutly Christian community, Brown goes to meet a man who represents the devil, leaving his wife Faith behind. Faith expresses concern which foreshadows something negative in the near future, and Goodman Brown promises himself that he will never meet with the devil again and turn good for his wife’s sake.
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However, when he meets the devil, the devil tempts him to join the dark side as everyone else in the community is already there. At first, Brown does not believe him, but when he witnesses the community members attending the devil’s gathering, he decides to join the dark side. However, when he finds his wife there as well, he urges her to stay true to God the last time, and God accepts his devotion and rids him of this gathering. Even though he survives temptation, he no longer trusts anyone around him.
Hawthorne’s main goal for writing this story, in my opinion, was to expose the weaknesses in a society, especially his own at the time. He was from a strictly Mormon society which, to him, was filled with hypocrites and double standards. Goodman Brown also loses his “Faith” in society when he witnesses its evil side. However, by keeping Brown’s experience ambiguous as the reader is not sure whether he dreamt the entire ordeal, Hawthorne almost empathizes with the so-called hypocrites and questions his own feelings. For example, Hawthorne cannot be sure if they are truly pious or not, and it may be that he is the one who is picking faults out of others making excuses for his own shortcomings.
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