Puritans, the Devil, and American Literature 11th Grade
“The Devil and Tom Walker” by Washington Irving and “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne are both short stories that illustrate Puritan ideas about the place of evil in human nature. Both short stories revolve around a central character and his personal struggle with the “Devil.” Tom Walker conspires with the Devil for monetary gain, while Goodman Brown’s interaction with the Devil causes him to question his faith. The authors utilize the literary device of allegory to depict Puritan ideas of good and evil, as evidenced by Tom Walker and Goodman Brown, and the complementary characters of Faith and Tom Walker’s Wife.
“The Devil and Tom Walker” and “Young Goodman Brown” both use a central character to illustrate a secondary meaning. Tom Walker is used to illustrate the Puritan ideal of evil, human greed. He is described to us as a miserly, unkempt, and brash old man—traits that give him a specific and realistic personality. However, as the narrative develops, one is able to understand the abstract meaning that Tom Walker’s character represents. In the story, Tom Walker sells himself to the Devil in order to obtain monetary wealth: “You are the usurer for my money!” said the black legs, with delight. “When will you want...
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