Nathaniel Hawthorne 's Young Goodman Brown And The Minister 's Black Veil
A peek into Hawthorne’s personal life sheds light on the themes and subject matter he chose for his literature. Born in 19th century Massachusetts,
Limited by America’s lack of history, Hawthorne turned to something more personal as an inspiration. John Hathorne, his great-great-grandfather, infamously took part in the Salem Witch Trials as a judge. Keenly aware of his ancestor’s role in one of darkest blemishes in early American history, a guilt-ridden Nathaniel added a “w” to his last name to conceal the relation. His family’s transgressions, although heavy on his conscience, proved beneficial to his legacy as a writer. Using his sense of shame as means of inspiration, he utilized aspects of Puritan life as a medium to portray the dark side of humanity.
In “Young Goodman Brown”, Hawthorne teaches two moral lessons about the human condition: evil exists in everyone regardless of deceiving appearances or one’s status in the church, and despite possessing good and honest intentions, the first moral still applies. Hawthorne sets the…