The Influence of Society on the Young Goodman Brown Essay example

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     Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown illustrates vividly how society and culture can very much influence a person’s sense of identity and belonging, or in the case of Young Goodman Brown the lack thereof. Being a Puritan man in a society that scorned the ways of witches and the devil, Young Goodman Brown grew up with a very pious outlook on life. Yet when it occurs to him to look at life a little bit differently, Young Goodman Brown receives more than he has bargained for. The journey he embarks on sheds a whole new light on his society that not only creates a struggle between himself and his fellow men but also one within himself.
     From the beginning of Hawthorne’s story a
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But when he sees that others have made this journey before him, Young Goodman Brown starts to feel somehow lied to. Now aware of the “guilty purpose that had brought him thither” Young Goodman Brown feels betrayed by this Puritan society. He even tries to go back to his wife, to his home, to his faith, to how things used to be three times before he actually returns from what he called an errand.
At the start of his trip it never occurs to Goodman Brown that his fellow men are sinners and that he may meet them along the way. “There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree” (184) is all he suspects at first. Therefore, when he begins to spot them one after another he begins to lose his mind. How could these people, so full of piety, be worshipping the ways of the devil? Is that not the same woman who taught him his catechism? Is that not the minister and the Deacon in whose words the people place so much trust and faith? Each person he meets lures him deeper into the realms of the forest and confuses him so much that he forgets he is trying to leave the place.
There is a mysterious aura around the area that places Young Goodman Brown in a trance where, despite the presence of faith, he unconsciously continues walking. He even stays when Goody Close screams “The Devil” (187) as the dark figure touches her with his staff. Society has only shown Goodman Brown of the religious way of life so that now this sinning dumbfounds him.
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