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The religious aspect of young goodman brown - Research Paper Example

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Religious aspects in Young Goodman Brown Professor number Religious aspects in Young Goodman Brown One of the most enchanting short stories of American literature and certainly one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s finest, Young Goodman Brown critiques Puritan ideology that seeks to repress the desires of man and introduce doubt into every aspect of his mind…
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The religious aspect of young goodman brown
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Download file to see previous pages The story of Brown alerts one to the dangers that are inherent in the puritan life that stifles the creativity of man and the only recourse that his imagination has is to resurface in his dreams where they display an unhealthy tendency to distort the boundaries between reality and illusion. Much of the analysis of this short story has followed the contributions of psychoanalysis to our understanding of the nature of dreams and the repressed. They have helped in the understanding of the story as one that critiques the excessive control of religion over the life of an individual. Hawthorne’s critique is leveled against the religious fervor that the puritan establishments of New England, where the story is set, has displayed, since the migration of people from England to America in search of a new colony to create a land that would be a model to the rest of the planet in their adherence to Christian ideals. Hawthorne deals not only with Christian ideas but also with the prejudices that Christian settlers had regarding Native American religion and rituals. Relegated to the margins of the white settlements, these original inhabitants of America are labeled as the friends of the devil. Hawthorne’s story of Goodman Brown manages to have some sympathy for the condition of the Native Americans but is guilty on many an occasion of referring to the devil and the powwow in the same breath. But then, the entire story revolves around a recognition of the fact that everybody is a sinner, at least in the mind. Hawthorne sets his story in the forest near the village of Salem. The forest, according to Reginald Cook, is set in opposition to the house which represents the outward appearance of the man and his spotless reputation. The forest on the other hand, abounds in “demonic presences” and “ancestral spirits” that represent elements of pagan religions that are set in opposition to the Christian atmosphere of the house and the village (Cook). It is implicit that civilization is necessarily Christian and the absence of Christianity means an absence of a civilized ethos. This amounts to a rejection of extremely complex religious beliefs that other cultures, including Native American civilizations, had. This was a very important aspect of the puritan establishment which used religion as a cover for the imperial designs of Britain. By belittling the beliefs of a certain civilization and setting oneself as the person who needs to introduce civilization in a particular place, one fails to incorporate in one’s way of living, which is what religion essentially is, the beliefs of anther community that may serve to enhance the quality of one’s life. Brown, as well as critics of Young Goodman Brown is often guilty of mistaking appearance with reality, says David Levin in his essay, Shadows of Doubt: Specters of Evidence in Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” (Levin). The appearance of the devil may be connected to the real devil, since there are enough indications to that effect. However, other characters can merely be a figment of the imagination of the character in the story. In any case, there is a great deal of ambiguity regarding the fact as to whether the events in the story are real or an illusion. The illusionary nature of the events may be interpreted as a dream or as an imagined ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Select a passage from the reading (no more than 40 words long) of Young Goodman Brown, then explain its significance in the cont
From this, Hawthorne draws to illustrate what he believes is the inherent fallibility and hypocrisy of American Puritan religion. In the book she co-edited with Dane Anthony Morrison, entitled Salem: Place, Myth and Memory, Nancy Lusignan Shultz states that “Hawthorne set Salem firmly into our imaginations by emphasizing two main aspects of the town’s history: the witch hysteria and the rise and fall of Salem’s glory days… his fascination with Puritan imagination and temperament informed his treatment of Salem past and present” (167).
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