Epiphany In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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David Jauss suggests, “The best epiphanies approach their revelations indirectly, through imagery, metaphor, and symbol rather than through direct statement. In short, they arrive with some elusiveness like insight itself.” In simpler terms, a great epiphany according to Jauss contains components revolving around symbolism or some other literary device to enhance the realization. It also, doesn’t reveal its true meaning immediately, but rather slowly over time. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown is an account of a holy man going through the forest, on a journey. For instance, Faith, Brown’s wife, is used as a metaphor to represent his struggle for his spiritual faith. Revelation by Flannery O 'Connor is a work that, primarily, focuses …show more content…
Hawthorne’s story isn’t the only work of literature to suggest an eye opening epiphany or lead their character on a spiritual journey.

Brown’s epiphany, in Young Goodman Brown, is slow coming and leads him on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. His persistent “errand” into the woods causes his epiphany, which changes his opinion on the townsfolk, and he now sees their true colors. For example, he discovers that pious, holy people who regularly attend church or that hold high leadership positions are actually corrupt. He eventually recognizes that the people of the town created a superficial mask in which they appeared to be good. Margaret B. McDowell writes a critical essay on the aspects of this idea, she exclaims, “...inverts traditional assumptions about the judging of individuals to be good or bad,...indirectly expresses her belief that only
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Brown, Mrs. Turpin experiences an awe inspiring realization that could change her life. O’Connor doesn’t explicitly say whether her epiphany corrected her selfish ways, but she does leave the audience open to both options. O’Connor goes on to explain, “There were whole companies of white-trash, clean for the first time in their lives, and bands of black niggers in white robes, and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized…” (O’Connor. 278). With this heavenly vision it allows her to have insight into her personal faults and weaknesses. The mental puzzle pieces finally click, her spiritual journey comes to a close when she understands that titles or status is ineffective in heaven. By going on this spiritual journey to a higher place it’s metaphoric to her idea of herself and her supposed high status drops down to reality. James W. Matthews explains Antinomianism and its relation to the story, “...insisted that salvation was of faith, not of works” (Para. 2). Essentially the idea of Antinomianism is being questioned in the story. A person 's works doesn’t make them good, it’s their conscious decisions that they make every day. In particular, if a person donates food or helps the homeless that doesn’t justify that they’re an alcoholic or that they’ve had an

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