Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” tells the story of a young Puritan who attends a satanic ceremony and ends up permanently afflicted with doubt. This essay analyzes Hawthorne’s use of the idea of witnessing throughout the tale, and the scriptural bases on which this spiritual discipline is built. Both aural and visual witnesses inspire spiritual uncertainty in “Young Goodman Brown”, an uncertainty that ends in his “dying hour of gloom.” Building on the insights of other scholars, including Edmund Morgan’s work on the visible church and Michael Colacurcio’s work on visible sanctity, this essay examines Hawthorne’s use of witnessing as a spiritual discipline and his complex use of scriptural ideas throughout the story.
Copyright © 2023 by The Pennsylvania State University. All rights reserved.
The Pennsylvania State University