International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 261

Full Length Research Paper

‘Young Goodman Brown’: The close lane

Naim Ezghoul* and Malek Zuraikat
Department of Foreign Languages, Faculty of Arts, Taif University, Al- Haweyah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 26 January 2010
  •  Published: 30 April 2010



This study aims to present 'Young Goodman Brown' by Nathaniel Hawthorne as a satire of Puritanism as a prejudiced and intolerable system of belief reflected in the character of Brown who is seen as the incarnation of Puritanism which sees all non- conformists as sinners. Being the incarnation of the Puritan ideology, “Brown is not just one Salem citizen of the late seventeenth century, but rather seems to typify…in a sense every [Puritan]”. Brown is the spokes-person and the mouth-piece of all Puritans whose words, actions, and interactions with other characters and the setting gradually unfold the Puritan ideology into a full-fledged system of belief. In trying to establish my outlook of Puritanism, I have been basically guided by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s disapproval of Puritanism as being particularly biased and discriminative against all non-conformists. Other signals including Hawthorne's knowledge of his Puritan ancestors have formed the basis of the study. Moreover, Brown's intolerance and his hesitation to follow up the journey on many occasions on the account of what he saw on the journey and his determination at the end of the story of the hypocrisy of the minister in so far as belief is concerned have helped to establish my argument. All this and more support the idea that Brown is as an embodiment of Puritanism which always tends to repeal the other. I have too seen in the setting a continuous revealer of the personality of Brown. The journey through the forest deepens the conflict within his mind leading him unexpectedly to be a stern believer in God. Therefore, I have used the traditional approach to investigate Hawthorne’s experience with Puritanism by analyzing Brown’s religious conflicts and finally his unyielding stand on Puritanism. The study also shows how the non-acceptance of the other is a reflection of a bigoted belief that tends to reject others in advance on the basis of belief. This further shows how this idea of pre-judging others is related to Brown's close attachment both to his Puritan ancestors and finally to Puritanism which are responsible for Brown’s one-way progress to the close lane. To highlight the theme of the story which goes as follows, Puritanism never gives up nor allows its followers to be lenient in favor of assimilating non-conformists, the study discusses some main elements of the story such as the setting, the plot, and symbolism which work together towards showing the work as a satire. The study also sheds light on Brown's most critical moment, the moment when he leaped out of belief. However, the study means to assert that Brown's slip out of belief is only a slip out of consciousness resulting from Brown's losing balance at a moment of great mental deliriousness which immediately shows a firmer retrieval to his previous state of belief. As the study asserts, Puritanism for Brown is a matter of destiny and any deviation from Puritanism is not likely. As “Thomas E. Connolly, has remarked that Goodman Brown has not lost his faith; he has found it.”.


Key words: Prejudiced, intolerable, Puritanism, incarnation, belief, deviation, hesitation, retrieval