Possible Sanctity And Specter Evidence Summary

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In his essay, Visible Sanctity and Specter Evidence, Michael J. Colacurcio illustrates how Hawthorne’s work reveals how “the Calvinist doctrine of election looks very much like the traditional sin of presumption” (393). The fact that Calvinist epistemology resembles the sin of presumption indicates that the notion of absolute certainty in of itself produces uncertainty. The first generation of Puritans, and those who followed, presumed they were God’s chosen people, yet in the same vein, they assert that God’s grace is not certain. Uncertainty then leads to a search for certainty; in certainty’s absence, there arises the path to the unpardonable sin, for there is no certainty without a singular, clear meaning to everything in the world. The…show more content…
He believes that his Faith is salvageable, yet due to Hawthorne’s use of deliberate ambiguity, Goodman Brown does not know “whether Faith obeyed” him or not (395). Goodman Brown awakes the next morning unsure if his Faith remains intact, unsure how the hellish communion ended. His uncertainty causes him to distrust those around him, “he shrank from” the minister and “snatched away [a] child,” from Goody Cloyse (395). He even distrusts his own Faith, deciding not to speak to her and only “looked sternly and sadly into her face,” attempting to discern if Faith is without sin (395). As such, he commits the unpardonable sin, looking for sin in others. He fears that he has lost God’s grace, or fears that others may tempt him into sin. Uncertain of his place and of the intentions of others, he attempts to find the sin before it may taint him further. However, sin’s taint had already reached him. Weighted down by his constant search for certainty, Goodman Brown became “a sad” and “desperate man” (395). His sin haunted him until his final breath, “for his dying hour was gloom” (395). In Young Goodman Brown, a young man falls to sin. Due to the Calvinist beliefs Goodman Brown held, he presumed that his justification would exempt him from the evils of sin. His conviction reflected the sin of presumption, and his presumption caused him to lose his conviction. As a result, he enacted in the unpardonable sin. Hawthorne skillfully shows how Calvinist epistemology shaped Goodman Brown’s psychology and descent into sin. He does this through employing deliberate ambiguity, allegory, and
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