The Puritan Influence in Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Puritan Influence in Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne?s ?Young Goodman Brown? (repr. in Thomas R. Arp, and Greg Johnson, Perrine?s Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense, 8th ed. [Fort Worth: Harcourt, 2002] 316) is a short story with strong Puritan influence. Puritanism is a religion demanding strict moral conduct and strong faith. Puritans held that Christians should do only what the Bible commanded. Analyzing ?Young Goodman Brown? is dependant upon understanding the Puritan faith. The influence of the Puritan religion is vivid in literary elements such as setting, allegory, and theme.
The primary setting of ?Young Goodman Brown? is the forest. The Puritans believed that the woods were evil because of the presence of Indians and witches, that they believed performed satanic rituals in the forest. Goodman Brown says to himself ?There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree? (317). Goodman Brown also tells his fellow traveler ?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 Brown, that ever took this path and kept?? (318). This statement helps show the strong conviction of the Puritans.The other setting of the story is Salem Village. Salem Village is historically most famous for the controversial Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials were sparked by the political motives and imaginations of the townspeople. Many Puritans were sentenced to death for suspicion of witchcraft. The Salem Witch Trials also contributed to the taboo feeling of the forest.
?Young Goodman Brown? is full of allegorical content relating to the Puritan religion. The names of the characters in ?Young Goodman Brown? are the most profound examples of allegory influenced by Puritanism. The protagonist, Goodman Brown, has a name that suggests far more than just a name. ?Goodman Brown? for example, is a name that presents the character as a good moralistic man that at all costs resists temptation. Goodman Brown?s wife, Faith, has a name that assists in illustrating the downfall of Goodman Brown. After seeing Faith in the forest, Goodman Brown cries, ?My Faith is gone!?(323). His wife, Faith was gone along with his spiritual faith. We first see Goodman Brown as a moral Puritan man, and after loosing his faith he becomes the opposite.
?Young Goodman Brown? has a theme of Puritan nature as well. People often dwell on life?s uncertainties so much that they loose the ability to enjoy life. Goodman Brown had a curiosity that made him travel into the wicked forest. His uncertainty of the townspeople?s satanic ceremony, whether it was dreamed or actually happened, drastically changed his life. The once naive Goodman Brown was now a sour angry man. ?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?(328). The negative development of Goodman Brown is summed up with ?for his dying hour was gloom?(328).
The Puritan influence of ?Young Goodman Brown? is evident in setting, allegory, and theme. The setting shows the evil perceptions the Puritans had about the forest and gives historical insight to Puritanism through Salem Village. Allegory is used to show
Goodman Brown?s loss of belief. The theme of ?Young Goodman Brown? shows the cause and effect of Goodman Brown?s downfall. Through understanding the Puritan religion, we begin to notice religious influence in all literary elements of the story.

The Puritan Influence in Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne 6.9 of 10 on the basis of 3582 Review.