The Witch Trials In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1509 Words 7 Pages
When Hawthorne retold the story of William Hathorne and the Quaker woman, I can see the similarities in other places of his story. When Ann Coleman is being “driven into the forest,” perhaps William Hathorne believed the forest was the house of evil; in his mind, Coleman was evil. For Coleman, the forest was possibly a safe haven, an escape from the brutality. In “Young Goodman Brown,” the forest was a dark and scary place where evil resides and where the devil holds communion. Hawthorne viewed the dew of the forest as the “dew of mercy, to cleanse this cruel blood – stain out of the record of the Persecutor’s life” (Miller 21). It is interesting that when Brown’s visions disappear, there is a “twig that had been all on fire besprinkled his …show more content…
“The Salem Witch Trials began in 1692” (Nick T. 1). In my opinion, it is ironic that the accusations were started by three young girls. Why anyone would take accusations of this sort seriously is incomprehensible. However, these girls, “screamed, threw things, uttered peculiar sounds and contorted themselves into strange positions” (Nick T. 2). Of course, it did not help matters when, “the local doctor blamed the supernatural and proclaimed that the community had a witch in its midst” (Nick T. 2). A diagnosis of this sort would be a laughing matter today. However, this was extremely serious to the Puritans. These girls accused many women and even a few men of being witches. Hawthorne’s great grandpa, Judge John Hathorne, played a major role in the trials. Brown’s dream or vision would have been allowed by Judge Hathorne as real evidence against the accused. Imagine Brown accusing his whole community and his own wife of witchcraft. They would have all been hung based on his “spectral evidence.” “Many of the crazed citizens of Salem had wronged innocent citizens, and taken 24 innocent lives” (Isabel L. 2). Hawthorne’s story was not about the Salem Witch trials per se, however, it can be found interwoven in the passages. “It could be said that Young Goodman Brown was a result of Hawthorne’s guilt that he felt because of his ancestors’ involvement in the Salem Witch Trials” (Jacobs …show more content…
Hawthorne believed sin was “necessary in order to truly understand humanity” (Thomson 11). Hawthorne was not approving of sin, however, “he attributes a beneficial use of sin” (Thomson 10). “For Hawthorne, it wasn’t a matter of collective guilt, but rather the battle of self versus self” (Thomson 11). This belief is evident throughout Brown’s journey in the forest as he struggled with his own desires between good and evil. In the Puritan faith, they never know if they are saved. They believe that only God can decide who is saved. This only leads to self – doubt and a constant battle in oneself. According to the Puritan belief, one person’s sin affects all of them. “Since the whole group had promised obedience to God, the whole group would suffer for the sins of any delinquent member, unless that member were punished” (Thomson 11). A person can learn Hawthorne’s differing opinion from Young Goodman Brown. If the visions Brown had been true, then the whole group would have to be punished. Instead, Brown was the only member being punished by his own self punishment. His one sin, the unknown evil purpose, caused Brown to fall from the grace of God. Brown was so focused on the sins of others that he never looked at his own sinfulness that night. If he looked at his own sin, perhaps he could have repented and found grace from

Related Documents