Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

Opposition of Societal Ideals in Hawthorne's Stories

Nathanial Hawthorne, in the two different, yet morally similar stories, “Young Goodman Brown” and “Artist of the Beautiful,” displays his opinions on dominant doctrines of society. Hawthorne expresses that the protagonists in each of the stories struggle to succeed within their emotional and social identities as they chose unconventional paths within their societies. Though Brown and Owen are able to succeed individually as they pursue their own ideals, they fail in the eyes of their surrounding societies.

The society in “Young Goodman Brown” strictly follows the rules and principles of its religion. To become an honorable Puritan, one is required to always mistrust himself and any others (4). The entire community abides by this Puritan doctrine, which requires that each person undergo a conversion experience in which he acknowledges his internal faults and sins. Brown, a Puritan awaiting official membership to the religion, begins his trial on the conversion experience. As a Puritan, Brown must acknowledge his unworthiness of God’s Grace and constantly reexamine himself to make sure that his sins are not forgotten (1). If Brown gains membership as a Puritan, he will join the rest of his society in living by the Puritan...

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