What Is Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"?


Quick Answer

“Young Goodman Brown” is a short story published in 1835 by American author Nathaniel Hawthorne. The plot reflects deep pessimism about the true nature of human beings, even those who assume the guise of good moral individuals living out the teachings of the Puritan church.

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Full Answer

Like much of Hawthorne’s fiction, “Young Goodman Brown” is set in the time of the Puritans and the Salem witch trials. A moral allegory, it features characters who truly are witches and recounts the title character’s complete loss of faith in his wife, his church and its members, his God and the future.

Literary critics have said Hawthorne wanted to express disdain for Puritan society and depict the true identities of its characters in contrast with external appearances. A major influence in Hawthorne’s writing is said to be guilt over the fact that his great-great-grandfather John Hawthorne was a judge in the Salem witch trials -- the only judge who never repented.

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