Reminisce of the days of being a child. What comes to mind? Feeling free and innocent? Basically, what society views childhood to be? Unfortunately, many children have horrible childhoods, suffering from abusive parents. Bad childhood stems from bad parents. Every ten seconds go by, and a parent abuses his child. Acts of rebellion, loss of self-esteem, lack of confidence-all factors are the results from a child being abused. Sadly, sometimes society ignores that aspect. Luckily, literature differs from other mediums in that it can express thoughts and emotional more effectively.
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury depict two girls going through a bad childhood. Celie and Caddy experience abuse from their parents, which causes Caddy and Celie to have emotional difficulties in their adult life. Caddy’s parents never beat her or sexually molest her; she suffers from psychological neglect, which many people do not see as a type of abuse. Psychological neglect includes the lack of emotional support and love, or the parents never attend to the child. Neither Mr. Compson nor Mrs. Compson says, “I love you” to Caddy; they do not show any type of emotional support. The father is a booze-drinking-could-care-less-life-is-a-bitch-then-you-die type of person, and the mother is a neurotic, whining bitch. Guilty as charged. No personal relationship exists between Caddy and her father; Mr. Compson is not there for his daughter. Can a relationship be established with a man who believes women “have an affinity for evil for supplying whatever the evil lacks in itself for drawing it about them instinctively… until the evil has served it’s purpose whether it existed or no” (110)? He sees women as evil and subordinate. Whereas most fathers would be outraged, Mr. Compson disregards Caddy’s promiscuity. To him, Caddy’s promiscuity is natural, human absurdity. Her integrity is none of his concern. When a father fusses at his misguided child, it is a sign of caring; he is fusses to improve his child. Mr. Compson does nothing; he does not care, leaving Caddy neglected. Caddy’s mother is no better than her father is.
A girl needs her mother; a mother is the only one a girl can turn to sometimes. However, Mrs. Compson is not the mother that a girl can always rely on.
Extremism Revealed in Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown
Extremism Revealed in Young Goodman Brown
Hawthorne depicts a 17th century Puritan attempting to reach justification as Brown’s faith required. Upon completing his journey, however, Brown could not confront the terrors of evil in his heart and chose to reject all of society. Puritan justification was a topic Hawthorne was aware of as a journey to hell necessary for a moral man. Having referred to the heart of man as hell, Puritans founds themselves in the midst of Satan and his multitude of devils as he established his kingdom in man’s heart. This was a dreadful revelation that caused Brown to grow bitter and distrustful. Puritan communities, secured by their orthodox faith, dealt with the ungodly wilderness around them.
Set in Salem during the early witchcraft day of then, Young Goodman Brown’s experience in the dark, evil forest correlated and would have been recognized by Puritans as a symbol of mistrust of their own corrupt hearts and faculties. Just as man could not trust the shadows and figures he saw hidden in the forest, he could not trust his own desires. Those desires had to be tested through his journey into the forest. Those evil spirits constantly tortured the Puritan, constantly reminding him of his sin and the battle in his own heart. Hawthorne used the presence of this demon in “Young Goodman Brown” by demonstrating, through Brown, the Puritan Journey towards Justification. Going through the forest towards Justification was marked by the disappearance of the self. In place of the self, was the awareness of helplessness and the illusions of sin. This awareness would then assist the moral man to no longer depend upon material things or people, but to put his faith solely upon God. Hawthorne’s knowledge of the historical background of Puritanism combined with the personal experience of his early life and the history of his own family merge into the statement that “Young Goodman Brown” makes. A system in which individuals cannot trust themselves, their neighbors, their instructors or even their ministers cannot create and atmosphere where faith exists.
Hawthorne’s tale places the newly wed Puritan Brown upon the road to what may or may not be a true conversion experience. The conversion experience, a sudden realization brought about by divine intervention, a vision, or perhaps a dream, easily translates into the dream of Hawthorne’s work and allows the author to use Puritan doctrine and the history of Salem to argue the merits and consequences of such a belief.