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Young Goodman Brown

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Richard Evans

Mrs. Zaglewski

English 1101

June 20, 2006

Essay 1

Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is a classic example of a battle between good and evil. Throughout the story, the main character, Young Goodman Brown, succumbs to curiosity and temptation and has a somewhat literal battle for his soul, in words, between himself and the devil, commonly referred to as the fiend. It is a battle that many are able to relate to because Hawthorne's main character goes through many common emotions. These common emotions are what bring the story to a more "human" level. By "human" it is meant that the reader is able to empathize and comprehend the problems of characters.

The story starts with its main character leaving his home at sunset. "Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset into the streets at Salem village." (Hawthorne 309) Living in the time period that he does, before electricity, it is quite unusual for someone to be out at night. This is the first indicator that something is amiss. Hawthorne then immediately gives the reader a reason why this specific night is a bad night to leave. "A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts..." (Hawthorne 309)This is then followed by an emotion most have felt. That emotion would be guilt. Brown feels guilty for leaving his house knowing where he has left to go and that he has left his wife alone when she is uneasy. "What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams too." (Hawthorne 309) Along with this guilt comes a natural feeling of paranoia. It is common that when one is doing something he/she feels is wrong, one is often paranoid simply of being caught. Brown expresses his paranoia by saying, "Methought as she spoke there was a trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight." (Hawthorne 309) Another common feeling is the feeling of a person to justify what he thinks he is doing wrong. Be it a justification of why or for how long one plans to do something wrong, this justification is a sure sign that one is doing something wrong. "...after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven." (Hawthorne 309) As the story continues, Hawthorne places Brown on a dark, dreary path, a path vividly described with the intention of giving the reader the impression of a path from which to stay away. "He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest..." (Hawthorne 309) As the story continues the main character finds his resolve against his wrongdoing and makes an effort to leave. "...; they have their own ways, and are no rule for a simple husband man like me." (Hawthorne 311) This shows that he has knowledge enough to know what he is doing is wrong, but cannot resist his curiosity. Brown even goes as far as to say "With heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!" (Hawthorne 313) Ultimately his curiosity becomes his downfall. He continues to travel the path, curious to see the owners of the

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