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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would not describe Goodman Brown as a heroic character, and I don't think Hawthorne wants us to think of him this way either, because Goodman Brown is a hypocrite. As a Puritan, a position indicated by his title, time period, and location, Brown ought to be fully committed to living a godly life, a life as close to sinless as he can muster. Instead, however, he chooses to privilege his desire to commit sin ahead of his faith, represented by his wife, Faith, whom he leaves behind when he goes into the woods. He claims that "'after this one night, [he'll] cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven.'" In other words, he purposely plans to be bad, so to speak, for just one more night, and then he'll let her (standing in for his faith in God) do the work for him; he doesn't plan to be good, really, he just plans to be faithful. He relies on faith to simply be there whenever he has decided to return to it, and this is not how faith is supposed to work: either one has faith and acts on it, or one doesn't. Christians are not supposed to pick and choose to have faith whenever it suits them. Therefore, due to his hypocrisy, I would not classify Brown as a heroic character.

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Young Goodman Brown

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