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Young Goodman Brown and the Devil and Tom Walker

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A theme that connects “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Devil and Tom Walker” is the false displays that all humans put on for others. In each short story we are shown how people put on a fake persona of a christian in front of others and then turn to the devil when no one else is around. The devil plays a huge role in both stories to lead good people into committing horrible sins and becoming corrupt. Realizing people are not who they say they are can lead to never trusting anyone again.

Both authors Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Irving help develop their themes through the characters in the stories having to make decisions with the devil and also witnessing people they know make deals with the devil. Hawthorne has a deeper purpose in writing “Young Goodman Brown” because of his grandfather and the way he participates in the Salem witch trials. Hawthorne’s grandfather was a judge involved in some of the trials and never repented for his actions. Hawthorne vowed to separate himself from his family because of this and added the “w” into his last name.

Young Goodman Brown is the main character of the story and he is going off into the woods and he meets another traveller on the road who we infer early on is the devil. Brown is going to a meeting with the devil. When he arrives he sees that his childhood christian teacher is there as well as the governor and more christians that live in his community. He quickly realizes that people are not who they say they are and the people and leaders of his community have already given themselves to the devil even though they portray themselves as christians.

Hawthorne is trying to show the problems with puritanism. Through Goodman Brown we see that people can claim to be good and pure but everyone is likely to sin and everyone at some point in their life does sin. Puritan teachers say that elders and followers of the religion are all good people but, they also teach that all people are born and become evil. Their teachings contradict each other just as the characters in young goodman brown contradict each other by putting on a display of being a good christian but then attending the devil’s meeting.

Foreshadowing is a literary device that helps to drive both stories. In “The Devil and Tom Walker” we are shown the devil’s trees with people in the town’s name on them. Those who had their names on the trees were leaders of the town who have done bad things. This alludes to something bad happening to them in the future. Further on in the story those people end up dying after the devil has cut their tree down.

Also in “Young Goodman Brown” foreshadowing is used when Brown is leaving his wife Faith. He says, “Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee.” This helps us to infer that something dangerous or harmful is going to happen that night because he wants his wife to stay safe even though



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