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Quotes in Young Goodman Brown

Quotes Examples in Young Goodman Brown:

Young Goodman Brown

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"They did so; and, by the blaze of the hell-kindled torches, the wretched man beheld his Faith, and the wife her husband, trembling before that unhallowed altar...."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Having placed so much of his faith in his wife, the climax of the story begins when Goodman Brown confronts his greatest fear: that his Faith (in both senses of the word) is corrupt. Also of note here is the atmosphere: Goodman Brown sees his Faith through the light of “hell-kindled torches.” This suggests that the light is not only evil but also supernatural. What Goodman Brown actually sees, therefore, may not necessarily be accurate. Instead of seeing a nuanced, complicated person capable of a mixture of good and evil, Brown can only see through his binary Puritan lens, which casts everything that is not completely righteous in a hellish light.

"The fiend in his own shape is less hideous than when he rages in the breast of man...."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Although Goodman Brown has just claimed that he should be feared as a sinful being, Hawthorne’s statement here suggests something more about the nature of good and evil: an external and internal nature. Goodman Brown considers evil as a supernatural, external idea found in the work of witches and devils. However, Hawthorne makes a point here that the more terrible “fiend” is the one that rages inside of us—a natural, human capacity for wickedness.

"Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powwow, come devil himself, and here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you...."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Since Goodman Brown’s Puritan faith conveys a world of good versus evil without room for nuance or error, he decides to embrace evil after he realizes that he is a sinner. He cries out this famous quote to the wind, indicating that sin no longer strikes fear in him as it once did. Because he is a sinner, he figures he ought to be just as feared as other evil things. However, this extreme reaction suggests that he hasn’t learned how to cope with sin. He still functions through a Puritan lens of the world, which says that if he sins at all, then he is condemned to hell.

"And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap while she called to Goodman Brown...."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Hawthorne establishes the moral conflict at the beginning of the story: Goodman Brown can stay with his wife Faith, as she pleads for him to do, or he can journey into the woods. This conflict is especially notable because of his wife’s name: Goodman Brown has a conflict with “Faith,” which literally refers to his wife but can also serve as a symbol of his religious faith. By establishing this conflict early, Hawthorne shows readers that Goodman Brown’s journey has high moral stakes: in leaving Salem, he is potentially leaving his wife and his faith.

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