Historical biographical analysis of "Young Goodman Brown"

Essay by kevymacUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, May 2006

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's ancestors immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in

1630, and settled in the town of Salem. The history of Hawthorne's family in the town of

Salem would play a major role in his career as a writer as we will see with "Young

Goodman Brown."(Moss 421)

Nathaniel Hawthorne himself was born in Salem Massachusetts, in 1804. When

he was four years old Nathaniel's father, Captain Nathaniel Hathorne, died, causing the

family to lose touch with his fathers side of the family.(Waggoner 5) Hawthorne later

graduated from Bowdoin College in 1825 determined to become a writer. The drive to

become a writer caused him to spend the twelve years after graduation in a self-imposed

isolation on the third floor of his uncle's house. During the twelve years, he researched

the local New England history to use in his stories. In doing this he learned that his

ancestors on his fathers side, of whom he knew nothing, had been political and religious

Puritan leaders in Salem.(Waggoner

6) To understand the gravity of this discovery it

must be understood that during the mid to late sixteen hundreds were the now famous

Salem witch trials. The Puritan colonists in Salem during the sixteen hundreds

encountered a number of hardships, harsh winters, horrible taxes imposed on them by the

British colonial government, and an outbreak of smallpox. All of these things, combined

with their bloody encounters with nearby Indian tribes, could only be the work of the

"devil." Subsequently the term "witch", humans who do the devils work, was tossed

around all too loosely. When someone was deemed a witch and would not confess, the

result was always death. (Moss 421-422) It is believed that Hawthorne felt guilty

about the participation of his ancestors in the witch trials and his work reflected...