Determinism is a philosophical doctrine that holds that all events. In its strictest form determinism denies free will or volition. In fact, the conflict of free will and determinism has often been the subject of philosophical debate and creative fiction. One famous work of creative fiction that deals with the conflict of free will and determinism is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” In “Young Goodman Brown” Hawthorne shows that Goodman Brown transformed from someone who believes that he can free himself from a deterministic nature into someone who believes that he and everyone else are controlled by natural compulsion.
In the first part of the story, Goodman brown believes that he can free himself from a deterministic nature. The purpose of Brown’s journey into the wilderness is to confront and master his own nature, represented by the evil stranger. Leslie P. Walker points out that “Brown’s journey into the heathen wilderness is in reality a journey into his own body, into his own nature”(74).
At the beginning Brown is walking and saying to himself “what if the devil himself should be at my very elbow”(332).
As Goodman Brown is saying this he spots a stranger who could be Brown’s father. This stranger is the devil.
Brown begins the journey with the excellent resolve to remain true to his faith illustrates his belief that he can free himself from the compulsion of the body. At the beginning Faith, Brown’s wife, tries to stop him from going on the journey. Donnley writes, “Faith… should be understood to represent the human power to resist animal compulsion. This is true when Goodman Brown meets the stranger. The stranger tells Brown that he is late and Brown says, “Faith kept me back a while”(332).
In this paper I would like to evaluate and analyze two literary works, namely, Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Rose For Emily by William Faulkner. The reason for my choosing these two works is the following: I believe that on close reading of the aforementioned novels one can trace the similarity in the personality of the main character is portrayed as being the incarnation of ...
Hawthorne is using the word faith as Brown’s struggle to free himself from his strong belief of good and evil.
In the second part of the story, Brown’s faith in his ability to resist bodily compulsion is progressively undermined and finally destroyed. The purpose of the series of scenes in the forest in which Brown meets respected members of his community is to show that Brown’s faith in human freedom is being eroded. One of Brown’s first encounters is with Goody Cloyse, Brown’s Catechism teacher. Finelli and Miller say, “Brown’s loss of faith in Goody Cloyse is symbolic of the weakening of his resolve to stand firm against the devil”(241).
After Brown encounters Goody Cloyse he hears Deacon Gookin and the minister, talking about the evenings events while going deep into the forest. Brown knows that there is know place for worship or a place to pray deep in the forest. Goodman Brown feels “faint and overburden with the heavy sickness of his heart”(336).
Brown’s faith is being eroded by these encounters. Why would these people of good be in a place of such evil?
In the climatic scene of the story, Brown looses faith in his ability to master his nature. Gross writes that “Brown has lost his fight with his own sinful nature, and that the flesh has triumphed over the spirit”(693).
Brown first looses his faith is when he hears Faith’s voice and yells out to her. Brown waits for her reply and a pink ribbon “fluttered lightly down through the air” When brown sees this he cries out “my faith is gone… there is no good on earth; and sin is but a name”(336).
The closing scenes of the story show Brown to be a creature trapped in a deterministic web. Brown recognizes that he is one with creatures of the heathen wilderness. As Marian Clark points out, “Brown’s fall…is a fall into nature” and at the end of the story Brown “Become[s] one with the surrounding wilderness”(76).
This identity of brown and the wilderness is suggested in an interesting way in the sound imagery Hawthorne employs at the end of the story. At this point in the story, we are told that, “the whole forest was peopled with frightful sounds-the crackling of the trees, the howling of the wild beasts, and the yell of the Indians” what’s more, these sounds are referred to as “echoes” which suggest that these “frightful sounds” originated in Brown himself (336-337).
... illustrate Brown's conscious. Before entering the forest, Brown looks back at his wife. As described in the story, Brown sees his wife, Faith, peeping ... man who does not really believe in such grotesque creatures but appreciates them as colorful and dramatic symbols of ... Hawthorne conveys his ideas on the darkness of human nature. Frank N. Magill Comments that 'Hawthorne writes about witches ...
And this sameness of sounds suggests a broader identity of brown and all of nature.
Brown is shown to be a creature “driven by instinct” through the wild forest “brandishing his staff.” As Keppler and Lawrence point out “sin always manifests itself as compulsion, as assertion of animal instinct”(33).
Brown and his animal nature are represented by Brown roaring “Ha!Ha!Ha!…let us hear which will laugh loudest…hear comes Goodman Brown. You may fear him as he fear you”(337).
This suggests that brown is being driven by his animal nature.
Goodman brown believes that he can free himself from a deterministic nature. The purpose of Brown’s journey is to confront and master his own nature. Brown begins the journey with an “excellent resolve” to remain true to his faith; he believes he can free himself from the compulsion of the body. Brown’s faith in his ability to resist bodily compulsion is progressively undermined and finally destroyed. The purpose of Brown meeting respected people of his community is to show that Brown’s faith in human freedom is being eroded. In the climatic scene of the story, Brown loses faith in his ability to master his nature. The end of the story shows Brown to be a creature trapped in a deterministic web. Brown recognizes that he is one with the creatures of the heathen wilderness. And then Brown is shown to be a creature “driven by instinct” through the wild forest, “brandishing his staff.”