The Power Of Pride In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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The Power of Pride All across literature, there are symbols and impersonal forces so strong, they possess the ability to manipulate the world. One might argue that the giftedness of a fiction writer could be determined by his or her ability to capture these forces and fit them into their works. Many authors have possessed this ability; one in particular is Nathanial Hawthorne. Revered by his contemporaries and praised by future generations, Hawthorne used this talent in a variety of short stories and novels. One masterpiece in particular is the short story “Young Goodman Brown”. In Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”, there is a force of self-righteousness at work so strong that it disturbs the equipoise of nature; furthermore, throughout …show more content…
The story opens with Goodman Brown leaving his town, Salem, as he heads to a witches’ meeting. Upon his arrival, Brown finds many of whom he thought to be honorable men and women from Salem. However, the most devastating find is his wife, the innocent and pure Faith. Brown, taken aback by everyone’s submission to the Devil refuses to take part in the Black Sacrament. Literary critic, Rena Korb, suggests that Brown, who represents mankind, is at a point of perfect humility in the beginning because he recognizes himself as a sinner. However, when Brown finds the rest of his village, but most importantly, his wife Faith, at the witches meeting, he abandons his faith of godliness in mankind. It is this decision that leads Brown to his inevitable destruction by searching for salvation where it is not – in himself (Korb …show more content…
According to Hawthorne, it is the greatest evil of all; however, self-righteousness is not the root of the problem. If one is to keep digging, they will find that the seed of the problem lies in the question of salvation – where does justification come from? When Brown abandons his family and neighbors at the witches meeting, he has rejected the salvation found in confession “that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” (Rom. 3:23). Ironically, as Brown seeks self-justification in an attempt to reach heaven, he has actually surrendered himself to the devil by living in a state of pseudo-salvation (Johnson n.p.).
Throughout “Young Goodman Brown”, Hawthorne aims to show the reader the detrimental effects of Puritanism; however, it is in the final paragraph the reader sees the full extent of the damage left by pride. Brown’s self-righteousness wasn’t just a case of arrogance; it completely dehumanized him. He was unable to function in society. He was composed of hatred, with no capacity for human love (Abcarian n.p.). The very last line of the story is enough to tell the tragedy of Goodman Brown: “they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom,”

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