Nathaniel Hawthorne, a writer and novelist from Salem in Massachusetts, was born into a Puritan family that included a judge who presided over the Salem Witchcraft Trials. In his stories and books, Hawthorne drew heavily upon this Puritan background. Hawthorne’s stories show his skepticism towards the Puritans by focusing on the themes of hypocrisy and sin. Hawthorne’s skepticism is also shown in his stories, which show the theme of hypocrisy, sin and corruption of puritanism. He did not trust absolute faith in America in the early nineteenth-century.
Nathaniel Hawthorne skepticism toward the Puritans is evident in his stories through themes such as hypocrisy and sin. The dark side to what may appear good is shown in “Young Goodman Brown”. Goodman Brown is convinced that everyone in town is good. He believes this because of Puritan values. He is confident that his wife, who he believes to be pure goodness, will lead them to heaven after he returns from the witch’s gathering in the forest. Something changes as he departs and reaches the forest. The town has a completely different meaning to him. At the meeting, he finds his wife who he assumed was incorrigible, as well other people from town. He assumes that since everyone has become friends with the devil and is therefore sinful, sin does not have any meaning. Goodman Brown has changed since he returned to his hometown. Hawthorne makes his strongest criticism of Puritanism through this experience. Goodman Brown claims that he has been forced to look beyond the lies of perfection told by his faith. He abandons his religion. Brown is portrayed as living a life filled with anxiety and sadness. The story implies that Puritanism’s internal logic is the problem, as it requires all goodness, or none. One cannot imagine such a life if they take it seriously.
Nathaniel Hawthorne, in his stories, reflected his doubts about America in the early nineteenth century. He did not have absolute faith as many Puritan believers did. Hawthorne fought for reform in an America that was solely based on Puritan beliefs that there could be no other option than pure goodness. He shows that sinful natures cannot be hidden, even if one believes they were born to live a pure life. He believed that a person could not be perfect at all times, allowing for conflicting beliefs in his richly Puritan-influenced family.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s beliefs were different from those of his Puritan-ancestry family. Hawthorne drew heavily from history in order to express his skepticism towards the Puritans. His stories show the theme of hypocrisy and sin. Hawthorne’s skepticism towards America was reflected in his stories, as he believed it could not be completely trusted.