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Evil in Young Goodman Brown Essay


Nathaniel Hawthornes Young Goodman Brown is about a Puritan man who, through an unrealistic journey in the forest, discovers that there is evil inside people. The story begins at sunset, with Young Goodman Brown leaving his house at Salem Village. His three months wife, Faith, steps out of her house into the street, and tries to persuade him to stay. Goodman Brown is reluctant to postpone his journey, and he says good-bye but not without promising to return to her and follow her to heaven. After leaving Faith, Goodman Brown meets with a devilish figure at the forest, this figure works as his guide during his journey. When Goodman Brown is reluctant about going deep in the forest, the devil figure convinces him to keep his journey, saying that his ancestors follow the same path.

During his walk in the forest Goodman Brown is surprise by the presence of Goody Cloyse, the woman who tough him catechism, but he is even more surprise after knowing that Goody Cloyse and the devil figure knows each other. After this revelation he decides to quit his journey, however, he hears familiar voices talking about going to an important meeting. The meeting is about the communion of a young woman into the evil, Goodman Brown deduces that Faith is the woman and he decides to keep going. During the celebration of the communion, Goodman Brown sees that the most respectful member of his village and the devil figure are there. When he sees Faith he ask her to resist, the next thing Goodman Brown knows is that he is in the woods, he is uncertain whether his experience in the forest was real or not. The next morning he is walking on the streets of the village, he avoid and ignore the greetings and blessing of the people of the village. The memories of his experience make him mistrust in his neighbors. The rest of his life Goodman Brown lives as suspicious cynical man, cautious of everyone.

Young Goodman Brown is the protagonist of the story, he is a man who believes that as long as someone follows the religion rules they are except of have evil inside them. Young Goodman Brown is a prideful man, who after his journey recognizes that there is evil inside people, but he does not see evil in himself; therefore he lives and dies with the Sin of Pride.

Although, Goodman Brown acknowledges that his journey has an evil purpose (1139), he does not seem concern about it, he believes that he is except of evil. According to Paul J. Hurleys Young Goodman Browns Heart of Darkness, Goodman Brown, it seems, has placed his faith and his hopes of salvation in the formal observances of religious worship rather than in the purity of his own heart and soul (419). The idea of considering that evil cannot be conceive in him, makes Goodman Brown a prideful man. It seems that Goodman Brown believes that he has already earned heaven, and that his journey into the forest does not affect what he believes is a fact. Goodman Browns pride is seen also when he is reluctant to go deeper in the forest:

Too far! too far! exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. 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. (Hawthorne 1139-1141)

With these words, Goodman Browns is not just showing pride of the good in his ancestors life, but also in him. He thinks he has more faith than his ancestors to follow a journey with an evil purpose and still being able to return with his soul intact and go to heaven.

During Goodman Browns journey, his traveling companion is considered it to be The Devil (1141). This last one, through the journey, shows Goodman Brown that inside men there is evil. When Goodman Brown talks full of pride about the good path that his ancestors follow during their lives, The Devil replies that they have been in the same journey, and he even help them, and not just his family but also the other Puritans. Well said. Goodman Brown! I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and thats no trifle to say (1140). This is the first time that Goodman Brown starts to hear about the evil inside people, and from The Devils mouth. However, Goodman Brown does not believe in The Devil words. He thinks he is lying, but the The Devil mentions that he is well-known in New England and among many deacons with whom he has been sharing the communion wine (1140). After this, Goodman Brown starts to doubt in the purity of people. However, he does not seem to doubt in the purity of his soul. Goody Cloyse, the woman who teach catechism, is the next person in his journey that he discovers has a relationship with The Devil. After Goody Cloyse recognizes The Devil and accepts his staff, Goodman Brown looks surprise and exclaims: That old woman taught me my catechism (1141). He cannot understand how a woman that he believe pure can have any kind of relation with The Devil. His doubt about the purity in humans hearts starts to grow, and his doubt becomes bigger after he hears familiar voices in the forest talking about assisting to an unholy communion of a young woman. Those voices belong to the minister and Deacon Gooking, men that are supposed to do not have evil in them. The idea that there is evil in people, it is becoming solid through his journey. The people he thinks is pure are showing to have a close relation with The Devil, what it makes them to have evil in their hearts.

When Goodman Brown realizes that Faith is the young woman to initiate in the unholy communion, it makes him to accept that there is evil inside people, My Faith is gone! cried he after one stupefied moment. There is no good on hearth: and sin is but a name, the woman and the respectful members of his society that he believes are pure, are in congregation with The Devil, this makes them evil in Goodman Browns mind (1141),. However, he does not seem to realize that he is also in the communion and that makes him evil too. Richard Predmore in Young Goodman Brown Night Journey into the Forest cites that Brown is too weak to face the dark side of his own unconscious. (255) Goodman Brown is not just showing weakness, he is again showing pride. He is seeing the evil in people but not in him. After listening to the Devils words in the communion Evil is the nature of mankind, Goodman Brown believes what The Devil is saying, there is evil inside people (Hawthorne 1146). However, he is too proud to accept there is evil inside him, too.

At the next day, Goodman Brown does not seem to know if his journey was a dream or not, but he is deeply shaken. He avoids the blessing and greeting of the minister, calls Deacon Gooking a wizard and questions the God he is praying, finally he snatch away a child whom Goody Cloyse is teaching catechism (1146 -1147). The memories of the night before distorted the good imaging he has of his neighbors before the journey. Now, he is obsessed with the idea that they are evil. Michael Tritts Young Goodman Brown and the Psychology of Projection, mentions that in an attempt to escape his guilt-consciousness and the concomitant moral anxiety, Brown projects his guilt onto those around him (114). Goodman Brown is unable to express his guilty for his participation in an unholy ritual because of his pride, which is why he reflects his guilt in his neighbors and in his own wife Faith. The journey changed Goodman Brown into a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man, characteristics that could be interpreted as evil. Although he lives for long time he never accepts that there is evil inside of him, because he is still to prideful for that. Goodman Brown does not become aware of his own kinship with evil; he does not see sinfulness in himself but only in others He has lost not only faith in his fellow men but his compassion for them (Hurley 419). Goodman Brown dies seeing evil and sins in everyone except him, he dies with the sin of pride.

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