An Analysis Of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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Concise Individual Infrastructure Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “Young Goodman Brown”, illustrates the effects of poor confidence on individual religious ideologies through the character, Young Goodman Brown. Hawthorne uses the story of this young man to express how an individual must have a firm conceptual foundation that is completely self-sufficient. It cannot merely be manufactured around others and their principles. Hence, it is called an individual belief system; it must be established upon individual’s own beliefs. Young Goodman Brown is ambiguous about his own belief system because of three factors inducing him to abandon everything he had once believed. Hawthorne reveals that doubting an internalized belief system is caused by an individual placing their own faith in something or someone other than God, by the perception of the religious prestige of others, and by the ability to be inveigled by divergent forces. Relying on individual faith in God is the key doctrine of being a Christian. When faith is placed in other objects, it is easier to diminish the foundation that holds such faith and causes the individual to constantly waver through life. Depending on someone else’s faith cannot suffice a person long enough to keep their belief consistent. One example Hawthorne uses to express this concept is through Brown’s wife, Faith, in whom Brown rests his own faith (1122). Brown clings to the thought of his wife as he walks down the path to convince himself that she is an essential factor to his well-being, because of her profound faith (Hawthorne 1123). Her influence on him evoked an internal dissonance between the opportunity to turn around and the decision to continue further. Brown explains, “Well, then, to end the matter at once, there is my wife, Faith. It would break her dear little heart; and I’d rather break my own” (Hawthorne 1124). This illustrates Brown’s cognition and the mental process he follows in deciding to embed his faith within his wife rather than his own psyche. The reliance Brown places on his wife serves as his only connection with God. At one point, he cries to the forest, “With heaven above me and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!” (Hawthorne 1127). He uses her to crutch his belief system. Brown’s wife is his only means of protection and security from evil forces. Then, after following his companion sometime through the woods, he soon realizes something has happened to his Faith, which makes him doubt his religious faith: “’My Faith is gone!’ cried he, after one stupefied moment. ‘There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil; for to thee is this world given’” (Hawthorne 1127). Allocating all his faith in his wife causes him to doubt his individual beliefs.
Like putting one’s faith in something other than God, perception of the religious authority of others can cause an individual to relinquish their philosophies. Young Goodman Brown separates from his individual foundation because of how highly he views the devout leaders of the town. While attempting to return home, he explains to the man that if he were to go on any farther with him, then he could not meet the eye of the good old man, his minister (Hawthorne 1124). Instead of reverting to his own individual belief system to make the clear decision to turn home, he ponders the opinion his minister would have of him if he knew he was meeting with the devil. Brown reveals his fear of listening to his minister’s sermon: “‘Oh, his voice would make me tremble both Sabbath day and lecture day’” (Hawthorne 1124).This reiterates the judgmental power that Brown endows in his spiritual leader. Hawthorne writes, “The young man sat a few moments by the roadside, applauding himself greatly, and thinking with how clear a conscience he should meet the minister in his morning walk, nor shrink from the eye of good old Deacon Gookin” (Hawthorne 1126). Regarding them so piously crumbled his belief system when he realized…