How can I write an analysis thesis statement for the characters in "Young Goodman Brown"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If the essay is to be on all the characters of Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," perhaps you may wish to establish and then examine the relationship of the protagonist, Goodman Brown, with the other characters. For, it is his self-perception along with his perception of others in his community which direct his fateful delusions.

Hawthorne's narrative, much like others, develops around the Puritanical hypocrisy of his ancestors.  In fact,  it is Goodman's illusions about good and evil and delusions about other characters that lead to his self-delusion and loss of faith in Puritanism. 

Goodman's first illusion is that he is of such good stock and character that he will not be influenced by his going into the forest primeval; he assures his wife Faith that all will be well when he returns.  And, with this "excellent resolve for the future," Brown feels justified in his "evil purpose."  However, when he sees Goody Cloyse and Deacon Gookin, spiritual leaders of his Puritan community, hurrying to the black mass, his faith is shaken and the "black cloud of doubt" enshrouds him.  Then, when Faith appears at the black mass, Brown's trust in her is destroyed; consequently, he loses his faith, calling upon the devil and becoming

the chief horror of the scene [who] shrank not from other horrors.

Disillusioned with his Calvinistic Puritanism that will admit no sin, Young Goodman Brown has learned the full and horrible significance of the Calvinistic belief in the depravity of man. In addition, he has been deluded in thinking that Goody Cloyse and Deacon Gookin are holy and his wife is pure; Faith is not, although she retains her faith in mankind as witnessed by her devotion to prayer and to her husband. Thus, this development of the character of Young Goodman Brown places the other characters into different perspectives and underscores Hawthorne's theme expressed in his own words.  For, he states that every human being is alone "in that saddest of all prisons, his own heart." Young Goodman Brown's self-delusions place him in this prison.