The Natural of Evil in Young Goodman Brown

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The Nature of Evil in Young Goodman Brown
The Nature of Evil in Young Goodman Brown

In Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the tale of a man and his discovery of evil. Hawthorne’s primary concern is with evil and how it affects Young Goodman Brown. Through the use of tone and setting, Hawthorne portrays the nature of evil and the psychological effects it can have on man. He shows how discovering the existence of evil brings Brown to view the world in a cynical way. Brown learns the nature of evil and, therefore, feels surrounded by its presence constantly.

Hawthorne creates a serious and somber tone throughout much of the story. From the start, the audience gets a sense that Brown will go through relentless agony from the devilish stranger. His diction in the opening paragraphs is a good indicator of this. He uses words such as “melancholy”, “evil”, “dreary”, and “grave” to evoke a certain mood in the reader. There is little relief from this seriousness that would suggest that Hawthorne’s attitude about the story be hopeful. Brown’s attitude and actions portray a negative view of Salem and its people. He ponders the hypocrisy of the town as well as that of the Puritans. He examines the possibility that evil and corruption exist in a town that is supposedly characterized by piety and devout faith.

The story is set in seventeenth-century Salem, a time and place where sin and evil were greatly analyzed and feared. The townspeople, in their Puritan beliefs, were obsessed with the nature of sin and with finding ways to be rid of it altogether through purification of the soul. At times, people were thought to be possessed by the devil and to practice witchcraft. As punishment for these crimes, some were subjected to torturous acts or even horrible deaths. Thus, Hawthorne’s choice of setting is instrumental in the development of theme.
He uses…...

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