Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Young Goodman Brown

Although Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story entitled “Young Goodman Brown,” would not be a story I would read of my own volition, I do believe that there are certain themes within the story, which are relevant to today’s world. Perhaps the biggest theme that is prevalent in the story is the concept of morality and temptation. Within Young Goodman Brown, the main character, who is very religious, feels himself struggling as he is tempted and pressured to succumb to evil. At one point, he meets a man with a staff who appears to be trying to make Goodman Brown turn from his faith by inviting him to a gathering of witches and servants of the devil. Brown tells him “Too far! too far!...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”(Hawthorne).

In some respects, the deep, dark forest is a symbol of sin and the temptation of sin. Even though Brown does protest for a while, he eventually succumbs to temptation, which is shown by the forest man’s staff sucking him into the forest and to the satanic meeting. He experiences such guilt afterward that he is described as never being the same: “On the Sabbath day, when the congregation were singing a holy psalm, he could not listen because an anthem of sin rushed loudly upon his ear and drowned all the blessed strain”(Hawthorne). This theme of morality and temptation is a theme which has been used throughout history, and these themes remain very relevant in today’s world. This story is a more physical representation of this concept, but it is one that many can relate to in their daily lives as they struggle to stay on the right path morally and religiously. The main character in this story ends up failing in his morals, which is something that most people can relate to. Therefore, this particular story is very relevant and effective in relaying this particular theme to the readers. It is not just a story given to students by educators, but has actual value for the average person as they may pull meaning out of it for their own lives in terms of morality and religion.

References

Hawthorne , Nathaniel . “Young Goodman Brown .” The Literature Network: Online classic      literature, poems, and quotes. Essays & Summaries. Web. 24 Nov. 2011.      <http://www.online-literature.com/poe/158/>.

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