Irony And Symbolism In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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Author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, believed that “no man for any considerable period can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true” (“Nathaniel Hawthorne Quotes”). He expresses this ideology in the short story “Young Goodman Brown.” Here, the main character’s faith is tested by the Devil himself. The Devil shows Goodman that even the most pious members of the community follow him when they are alone. The author alludes to the thematic idea that everyone has his or her own inner evil through the unique setting, the inner conflict expressed by the protagonist, and the irony and symbolism behind the characters’ names and attributes. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4,…show more content…
Facing persecution in Europe, the Puritans came to America in order to create a society that lived according to the Bible’s demands. They were a separatist group who believed in purifying the Church of England by eliminating all aspects of Catholicism, like the Pope, for instance (“Puritan New England; Plymouth”). They also believed in predestination. This means that God chose whether or not a person would be saved or condemned at birth. However, the Puritans did not know whether God chose them to be saved or condemned, therefore, they lived through strict policies laid out in the “Covenant of Works” and the “Covenant of Grace.” The “Covenant of Grace” declares that “nothing people do can erase their sins nor earn them a place in heaven.” Consequently, the “Covenant of Works” states that “God’s elect must do good works…to earn their salvation” (Henretta). Because of the religious beliefs in this area, when Goodman leaves for his journey, he tells his wife to “Say thy prayers… and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee” (Hawthorne 1122). He believes that Faith, his wife, is so pure that she must be one of God’s chosen elite and is predestined for Heaven. So, he gives her the advice to pray and “go to bed at dusk,” which would prohibit her from participating in negative activities. This advice goes hand-in-hand with the concept laid out in the “Covenant of Works.” The Puritanism in the region also explains why even the most pious members of the society, including the minister, fall under the influence of the Devil. According to the “Covenant of Grace,” no matter how devout these individuals attempt to be, they are not saved, therefore, they are easily coerced by the
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