The Theme Of Judgement In Young Goodman Brown And The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is well-known as one of the fundamental writers of early American literature. His most famous work, The Scarlet Letter, is a staple in the classroom, and is recognizable by almost anyone. Hawthorne wrote about many things, but one particular theme stands out in a few of his works. Judgement is seen rather often, and Hawthorne seems to have a deeper personal connection to this particular theme, perhaps because of his dark ancestry. Noticeably, judgement appears in his two short stories, Young Goodman Brown and The Birthmark. Nathaniel Hawthorne portrays his ancestral guilt through the theme of judgement, as seen in Young Goodman Brown and The Birthmark. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born as Nathaniel Hathorne, named after …show more content…
The short story begins with Goodman leaving his wife, Faith, to journey into the Salem forest for unknown reasons. He meets a familiar man, presumably the devil, in the forest, carrying a staff resembling a serpent. Goodman attempts to protest the journey, but the devil informs Goodman that his father and grandfather had taken the same journey, along with many others. Along the path, the pair come across Goodman’s Sunday school teacher, Goody Cloyse, who appears to be a witch. Goodman decides to stop walking, and the other two continue on alone, until Faith’s pink ribbon appears in the forest. Enraged, Goodman runs after the two and comes into a clearing, where there is a devilish scene. All the townspeople are present, and the devil proclaims all present to be sinners, saying that evil is the nature of mankind. Before blacking out, Goodman catches of glimpse of his wife Faith in the forest as well. In the morning, Goodman returns to town, where everyone acts as if nothing happened, including Faith. From that day on, Goodman became a dark and gloomy man, seeing nothing but sin all around …show more content…
Goodman judges his fellow men while traveling with the devil, and with the devil’s influence, concludes that all men are evil, and for the rest of his life he views all men as evil. “My faith is gone! cried he, after one stupefied moment. There is no good on earth ;and is but a name. Come, Devil for to thee is this world given.” Hawthorne implies here that Goodman’s greatest sin is judging. Goodman obviously sins by becoming a follower of the devil, but in Hawthorne’s eyes, Goodman commits an even greater sin by judging others. That fact he has judged becomes apparent when Goodman starts to invest in the devil’s decree: “Lo, there ye stand, my children, said the figure, in a deep and solemn tone, almost sad with its despairing awfulness, as if his once angelic nature could yet mourn for our miserable race. Depending upon one another s hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream. Now are ye undeceived. Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome again, my children, to the communion of your race.” In this passage Goodman concludes that all men are truly evil. This presence of judgement in Young Goodman Brown is particularly related to Hawthorne’s family history. For instance, when Goodman travels into the forest, it is the Salem forest. Also there is the fact that the devil resembles his father/grandfather, which could represent that his family was

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