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Essay on A Critique of Puritanism in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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Young Goodman Brown: A Critique of Puritanism 


Given Nathaniel Hawthorne's background, it is not a stretch of the imagination to say that Young Goodman Brown is a critique of  Puritanism.  Hawthorne lived in the deeply scarred New England area, separated from puritanism by only one generation.  His grandfather had been one the judges who presided over the Salem Witch trials.  Some of the principle motifs that run through Hawthorne's works are hidden sin, the supernatural, and the influence of evil.  Ironically enough, puritanism is also a part of those tales.  What then is the moral/ philosophical import of Young Goodman Brown?  It suggests, in an allegorical sense, that puritanism is a deceptive religion that creates a false reality; one to which it is not righteous to belong.

 

In an allegorical sense, one can say that Faith is a representation of Puritanism.  When Goodman Brown leaves his "faith" to make "haste on his present evil purpose(Guerin, 375)," one tends to view his "faith" as virtuous, in that it contrasts with his "evil purpose."  But let us examine the ...


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