Analysis of Young Goodman Brown

So, I’m taking Intro to Literature this semester (it’s a humanities and I need the credits) and one of the first stories we ventured into was Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.”

With it’s use of Olde English and the particular word choice that create the subtle thematic ideas, it’s easy why some people would gloss over it and then pick up Left 4 Dead. I did the first time. But the second time I read through, I found this beautiful paradigm that created itself out of the setting around “Young Goodman Brown” and a scene from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I don’t know how those two wires in my brain crossed, but it was glorious.

Hawthorne grew up in the United States during a pretty Puritan-heavy time. Like kissing in public, even between man and wife, was deemed inappropriate. (Think of the aneurysm he’d have if he walked into today’s high schools where students are reading his works.) One of the standard fire-and-brimstone sermons of his tie was called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” by this guy here, Jonathan Edwards. ———————->

It was all black and white for this guy. We are tiptoeing on the razor’s edge, and it’s only the mere pleasure (Jonathan Edwards said ‘mere’ a lot in this sermon) of God that we don’t fall in and get tortured by the devil himself because that’s what men are and we deserve judgment.

Anyone reading that nowadays would say ‘that foo’s crazeh.’ Well, in his day, he was the shizz.

We have a kinder approach to people, and the scene from Harry Potter captured it. Harry’s about to leave for school and his godfather, Sirius Black, stops him before he leaves. Harry believes that his understand of Lord Voldemort is from Harry becoming more and more like him. Black stops him and says: “The world isn’t divided into good people and Death eaters. We all have good and evil inside us. It all depends on which we act on.”

There’s the two extremes, and where Goodman Brown finds himself stuck. Can a bad person still be good? Can there be some gray in between the black and white? He ends up choosing black and white over the gray that would probably leave him able to love his wife and co-habitat in a town of good-and-bad people. He ends up such a wet blanket that no one is even willing to say a nice thing on his tombstone.

So, there you have it. I’ve even made a Venn diagram, and it’s nicer than the one I scribbled in crayon in my notebook.



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