Tuesday, January 27, 2015

book talk: Young Goodman Brown

The Short Story, 50 Masterpieces I read this short story last night, by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This is the same author that wrote The Scarlet Letter, and I was surprised to discover that this story, too, was heavily saturated with religion and sin. I found myself reading, pausing and thinking, whoa, what? It was a bit on the crazy side for me, crazy as in so deeply wrought with the torment of sinning within religion that it was slightly disturbing for me. Now, I will admit, that maybe I did not understand this story correctly. It seemed told all through symbolism in my view, which I might be understanding not in the way intended. However, I will go ahead and lay it all on the table. The story is about a man, Mr. Goodman Brown (Goodman), whose wife is name Faith. He has to go on some journey, which ends up being a walk in the forest with, I guess, the devil? And he is heavily persuaded to take worship. Throughout, there are lots of people in his life that are coming in and out of view all around him, worshipping. Then his wife is bought forth, I guess as some sort of sacrifice? Or they are going to force her to worship? It was all a bit strange for me. Then at the last minute, Mr. Goodman Brown told his wife to resist, and all the vision disappeared. He pretty much lived the rest of his life paranoid, not trusting all those same people that were a part of his life, I guess because he was thinking in the back of his mind that they are sinners.
I took the story to mean that one has to stick close to their faith, and not be so concerned about what others are doing with theirs. Mr. Goodman Brown became so engulfed in the idea that the people he knew to be God fearing people, were actually sinning behind closed doors. This began to impact his relationship with everyone, to the point of nothing sentimental being written upon his tombstone. I like a story written in this way, full of symbolic meaning, where you have to read between the lines and understand the story on a deeper level, especially when it is about something that is already deep. However, this particular story kind of freaked me out in a way. To be honest, I'm not sure why? I don't consider myself especially religious (though I have been in the past), but I do consider myself extremely spiritual. I seriously think it was an OCD part of me that was bothered. There were several parts worded just so, that kind of sent my mind into caged thinking and had trouble breaking it. Just the creepiness of being in a forest with "the devil" and the idea of being persuaded to do something ritualistic like that (as for some reason, ritualistic things tend to freak me out). It was a little too much for me. I do really like Hawthorn's writing style though. I remember reading most of The Scarlet Letter in the past, and I really loved it. I've actually been thinking of picking that book up again recently. As for this story, not my favorite!

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