Does Young Goodman Brown Achieve Goodness? Essay
Nathaniel Hawthorne often emphasizes the ambiguous nature of sin, that good and evil do not exist in parallel with each other but at many times intersect with each other in his fiction. In "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne applies what he believes is the virtue of recognizing cosmic irony of taking into account the contradictions inherent in the human condition, to his portrayal of Young Goodman Brown.
According to Hawthorne's view, Browns failure to recognize the inherent sinfulness in himself as well as the rest of humanity, results, not in a rewarding life of reveling in righteousness, but in isolation and obscurity. Hawthorne juxtaposes the village of Salem, Massachusetts …show more content…
Hawthorne also creates the blurred lines between sin and virtue for Brown with the appearance of all of the respected community elders, from his Catechism teacher, Goody Cloyse, to the minister of the church, in the forest to witness Brown's initiation into his knowledge of the inherent sinfulness of humanity. For Brown it was "strange to see that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints"(72). This confusion and inability to deal with the unclear nature of sin, will lead Brown to a tragic fate. Hawthorne uses Brown's trip into the forest as a form of rite of passage, to "behold the whole earth [in] one stain of guilt" where he can "join the communion of his race" and in doing so, gain the "sympathy of human hearts"(74, 73, 74). However, Brown resists his human impulses and considers the feelings of union with his fellow human beings in sin as an acceptance of a "loathful brotherhood by the sympathy of all that was wicked in his heart" (73).
Although Brown resists the communion and rejects the notion of his own fleshly fallibility by embracing righteousness, he also loses his own faith in humanity of the world: "come, devil; for to thee is this world given" (71). He becomes suspicious of all