Having been exposed to Puritanism and the early United States society in English III in high school, I was very enthusiastic to read another writing work by Nathaniel Hawthorne. His The Scarlet Letter was a stunning work that gave a representation of the Puritan society in this country, its extremeness belief and cruel punishment for sin, and its conservative view in moral and ethics. Within the same time frame, Hawthorne based his fictional story Young Goodman Brown to give the readers more exposure to the ideas of Puritanism and his criticism toward his ancestors' religion.
The story began with the young Goodman Brown leaving his home and wife, Faith, to join some companion into the deep forest, which was restricted to the villagers. When entering the forest, he was greeted by a man, with many details, such as the "great black snake" staff, hinting as the Devil (Hawthorne 1). Learning that he was going to an evil meeting, Goodman Brown had made several attempts of leaving, but his curiosity controlled his foot. However, when he was deeply into the forest and heard the voices of the minister and the deacon, he was determined to leave. Unfortunately, suddenly hearing the voice of his beloved passing by, Goodman Brown believed he had lost his Faith and allowed to be taken to the unholy meetingthe Devil conversion ceremony. When the couple was asked to come forth, Goodman Brown regained his consciousness and quickly cried for Faith to resist the evil temptation; but suddenly, he "found himself amid calm night and solitude" (Hawthorne 4). Walking back to the village, the poor guy was unable to confirm if everything was just a dream or not. However, the experience disrupted his psychological stability. The young man became suspicious at everyone, even his Faith, distrusted their actions and beliefs until the day he passed away, when his family members and neighbors shed no heart for him.
In a way, this story can be viewed as an allegory written to expose the dark side of human beings. People can quickly see one of the distinct points of an allegory in the writing, when he named Goodman Brown's wife Faith. It was an exceptionally gorgeous display of his writing technique when Brown acclaimed "But, where is Faith?" (Hawthorne 3) after finding out his wife was passing by and going to the ceremony; the question actually referred to his lost of two important life belongingshis wife and his belief. Another allegorical detail can be found in the descriptions of the mysterious man who accompanied Goodman Brown into the forest, with his staff looking like a black snake.
Young Goodman Brown is another writing work in which Hawthorne tried to expose and criticize the beliefs of Puritanism. The story perfectly displayed the conservative morals and ethic codes of the Puritan society and the belief that people are disgustful sinners can cause negative effects on the society and their personal lives. Because believing everyone is a sinner, Goodman Brown distrusted his society members and turned to believe in his personal experience, in this casehis dream or vision. The second idea Hawthorne wanted to give the readers, in my opinion, is that he believed the Puritans were being hypocrisy. He showed his criticism in the Goodman's dream or vision that everyone in the community was running to join the evil ceremony, even the minister and the deacon, who supposedly were to be the most religious person. He tried to criticize that many people presented themselves as holy and righteous, but according to their beliefs, they were supposed to call themselves sinful and evil.
The criticisms Hawthorne gave to his religion is also what I would give to my religion. After researching and acquiring a lot of subjective views about my religion, I turned to stay against its teaching. Even though I still believe in my God, I am against the beliefs forced and written by my Congregation. In my view, I believe the conservative morals it has had never given great positive effects on the society, but rather caused negative effects, inequalities, and discriminations toward different minorities. I found it ridiculous having to obey the religious laws written by the clergymen, who enjoyed the money and lived in gold given by the people, who had little or no sympathy toward minority groups but a whole heart to what they called "true morals." I call that hypocrisy, like Hawthorne, when the people who were born sinfully as I was, and presented themselves righteous to make decisions harming others. It may be right that they are trying to keep the old values, but as time goes on, people and religions need to adapt and make alterations that can make the world a real loving place, instead of spreading hatred.
Being a romantic-era author, Hawthorne, like most of his peers, displayed the explicit dark side of human beings and criticized the wrong and negative belief of the society. In Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorn discussed his perspective that a conservative religion that requires people to believe they are sinful will cause people to distrust each other and bring long-lasting negative effects. He also criticized the hypocrisy of most of the Puritans, especially the clergymen, who presented themselves as well-beings and righteous, even though their beliefs taught them that they were sinful and evil. Even though the story was based on his perspective toward Puritanism, his criticisms can still be noted in today society and in many religions.