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Massachusetts Puritans English - Research Paper Example

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Summary
The short story Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates several central doctrines and beliefs that the Puritan society held closely. These include that the Devil existed everywhere, and would appear in any form to those that were alone and offer temptation in some form to ease the way of the Puritan man or woman in their hard struggles of life…
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Massachusetts Puritans English

Download file to see previous pages... Furthermore, it expounds on the central doctrines of Puritan faith of depravity, or that everyone existed in a state of corruption, wickedness, and evil, and the doctrine of grace, the belief for some Puritans that they were saved by God and would surely be joining Him in heaven when they died. Finally, it illustrates that the Puritans believed just how easy it would be for a person to lose their faith; this could be lost, no matter how strongly they held it close to them, or how strongly they felt that they had attained that state of grace. Goodman Brown begins his journey believing without a doubt that he is in what Puritans referred to as “a state of grace”; he believes himself to be one of the “elect”, meaning that he knows that he will go to heaven. He even muses to himself about the journey that he is about to take and the lament he feels about leaving his wife, even for that one night. He believes that she understands, saying “well, she is as blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.” Intellectually, and as a whole, Puritans subscribed to the fact that the grace of God and eternal salvation could neither be earned nor denied, even though they spent quite literally the whole of their lives, from birth to death and in between, wondering if their deeds would be gracious enough to earn them a place in heaven (Reis 13). Ministers often preached and delivered sermons to “three different audiences”, even through one service, as there were those who felt that they were assured of heavenly salvation, those that felt that they could receive it if they humbled themselves to God and His will a little more, and those that believed that they were never going to see heaven, no matter what their thoughts and deeds were (Reis 15). Goodman Brown obviously believes himself to be in the first category, most likely through living a life free of sin and wicked deeds, and having been in constant prayer and humble service to the Lord. When Goodman Brown is first joined by the Devil on his walk, he boasts to him about how his faith is strong, and that he will never lose it. He states, “We have been a race of honest men and good Christians since the days of the martyrs…we are a people of prayer, and good works to boot, and abide no such wickedness.” Yet, as he walks on, it becomes clear that his faith is not as strong as he thought it was. He sees that others in his village have been consorting with the Devil, including Goody Cloyse, who taught him his catechism (religious studies) as a child, and the minister from the town church. The climax comes when Goodman Brown thinks that his wife is also in league with the Devil, causing him to lose his faith in his fellow man and his wife. Much of this is due to the fact that while Puritans held close the doctrine of grace, they held even closer the doctrine of depravity, and believed, without question, that humanity existed in a state of corruption due to “original sin”, and only those in a state of grace, or those that were considered the “elect”, would go to heaven with the Lord; the rest, ultimately, were doomed to an eternity of Hell (Fischer 23). Goodman Brown, then, suffers due to two points of the Puritan doctrine, not just one: first, because he now thinks that many in his village that he believed were surely in a state of grac ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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