Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

Faith and Religion in “Young Goodman Brown”

Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” challenges preconceived notions of religion and offers another view. His view of religion is pessimistic, as his titular protagonist de-evolves into a disillusioned old man whose “dying hour was gloom” (12). Melissa McFarland Pennell highlights the central problem of this story when she observes, “[Brown] perceives the actual, sees what his imagination induces, […] accepts what the devil insinuates [and] never questions the validity of the scenes and sounds that he detects, but he does begin to doubt heaven” (35). Brown’s uncurious nature towards the events pertaining to religion that are happening around him leads us to question the meaning of faith and religion. Alfred Kazin notes that “the belief in salvation through the extraordinary, complex and ultimately inexplicable will of God that kept the Puritans snug and safe [was] something Hawthorne couldn’t bring himself to believe” (29). Though various critics have commented that Hawthorne did not agree with the Puritanical approach of Christianity, I am not suggesting that his attack on religion here is an act of rebellion; instead, Brown’s muteness challenges the readers to question our preconceived notion of religion, and this lack of...

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