Evil, Faith, and Redemption in Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown

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After this dreadful night ends, Brown can’t decide if his previous night was a

dream or not. Hawthorne goes on to tell how Goodman Brown believes he finds his

redemption. He states, “…when the family knelt down at prayer, he scowled and

muttered to himself…” (Hawthorne 1095). Hawthorne uses this final passage with a set

of others to show how Goodman Brown found his redemption in reason. He reasons that

everyone is evil, so he must break all communications with the people except his own

family. This is not the path of redemption that the Bible shows, but this it what he

believes to be true. The path that the Bible shows to redemption is to believe that Jesus

died and rose from the grave to conquer the sins of the world. The problem that this

points out in modern culture is a lack of responsibility for sin and that people follow their

own set of rules instead of looking for an absolute truth. This problem is added upon by

other themes in the story.

Evil in modern culture is hidden by the evildoers, much like the town of Salem in

“Young Goodman Brown.” The town of Salem is seen in the woods the night that

Goodman Brown is out going to the witchcraft meeting. Some of Brown’s most respected

townspeople are heard and seen in the woods. Goodman Brown knows what he is doing

is wrong and when he sees the town out there, he knows they are also committing the sin

of witchcraft. Hawthorne even tells that “…a score of the church members of
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