How did Goodman Brown accept responsibility for his actions?

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timbrady eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because of the ambiguous nature of Brown's entire experience (was it a dream, did some of it happen, did all of it happen?), it is difficult to speak of "responsibility."  What we do know is this:  Brown's entire life is changed because he cannot accept the fact that all of us, from the "best" of us to the "worst," are "sinners," wilth our own failings, shortcomings, etc.  Brown wants it all one way. He cannot accept that his catechism teacher and pastor are sinners;  he can no longer accept his wife as a sinner.  This, despite the fact that he doesn't even know the "experience" really happened.

 All of us must go into the "woods" at some point in our life.  We must find out that people who once seemed "almighty" and "all good" are, like ourselves, mixtures of good and evil.  If there is any responsibility in Brown, it is for his inability to grown into a more complex understanding of "reality."   He pays a great price for this, dying quite alone and quite miserable.

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Young Goodman Brown

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