Analysis of Sin in Young Goodman Brown

June 21, 2018 Law

Thus sin is the transgression of God’s law. In his short story “Young Goodman Brown”, Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes sin to represent the conflict concerning good and evil in human nature. To paraphrase Wikipedia. com, the function of sin in “Young Goodman Brown” symbolizes the clash between public goodness and private wickedness.

The central characters, Young Goodman Brown and his wife, Faith shows the juxtaposition of good versus evil all throughout the short story. Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes various symbols to represent sin. Faith’s character symbolizes the sin of adultery. Not only has God forbidden adultery, but the son of God himself said, “Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” Matthew 5:28. As the text states, “As the wife was aptly named” Faith which indicates she represented innocence and belief in God (p. 25). As Faith discovered that her husband was determined go into the forest, she pleaded with him for him to stay. Faith stated, “ A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she’s afeard of herself sometimes”(p. 325). That quote signifies Faith adulterous mentality. Faith was a key participant in the witches Sabbath witch cemented her as not being of faith, but of evil. Young Goodman Brown symbolizes the sin of pride. Pride is among the most evil of sins to commit.

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Pride is defined as an excessive belief in one’s own abilities that interferes with the individual’s recognition of the grace of God. It has been called the sin from which all others arise. Pride is also known as Vanity. (http://www. deadlysins. com/sins/pride. html) During the witches Sabbath, Young Goodman Brown was an observer, however his non-participatory presence made him just as guilty as the others being initiated. After the ritual in the forest, he attempted to return home as if he was never involved in the ritual. There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil; for to thee is the world given”(p. 330). This author is showing us that he has lost his faith in man because he gives up the world to the devil. In conclusion, the symbolism of sin is central to “ Young Goodman Brown”. Both, Goodman Brown and Faith were both curious about the evils of the world. The short story illustrated how people can go against their morals and give into temptation. With the recent incident in Shenandoah, where a Hispanic immigrant was killed, there were multiple perpetrators.

For those who did not actually give the fatal blow, they are just as guilty as the others. In Young Goodman Brown, although he observed the ritual he was still involved. His pride enabled him to think he was still a “good” guy, despite his blasphemous behavior. The individuals who did not actually do the killing in the Shenandoah tragedy were prideful as Young Goodman Brown was. The function of sin was vital to understanding “Young Goodman Brown”. Nathaniel Hawthorne utilized sin to show that everyone harbors his or her own secret sin.


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