Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Analysis
Xun Zuang once said, “Human nature is evil, and goodness is caused by intentional activity.” Not all human beings are evil, but that is a decision one has to make. Humans are born with a sinful nature, and morality is taught as one grows up. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown,” the main theme is that “evil is the nature of mankind.” Hawthorne’s theme is supported by John Calvin’s belief in total depravity. Total depravity is the belief that all human beings are sinful and are born with an inherent sin-nature. With this said, I agree that “evil is the nature of mankind;” however, one can choose whether they are good or evil.
The first example of total depravity is when Hawthrone says that “Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose” (292). In his sinful nature, he decides to deceive his wife and go to the forest and flirt with the devil. Another example is when the author says, “the devil himself should be at my very elbow” (293). Goodman Brown has a choice to make and he chose to continue and follow the devil. The decisions one makes determine whether one stays evil or tries to be a better person.
The second examples come from Xun Zuang’s book, “Xunzi.” Zuang states that “When a person desires to do good he always does so because his nature is evil.” If a person’s nature is not evil, then they should not feel the need to try to be good because whatever one lacks is what he must seek. Since human beings are all inherently evil, “one must be transformed by the example of a teacher and be guided.” One must have the example of a teacher to become good.
Thirdly, the Bible has a major say about sinful nature. In Genesis chapter 3 is where I believe we get our sinful nature. Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree; therefore, condemning human beings to be born in sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” The Bible says that we are all sinners and the only way to save ourselves from sin is through God.
In conclusion, all human beings are evil by nature but they do not have to live this way. People have the ability to chose if they will stay evil or try to be good.