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Nancy Bunge in Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Study of the Short Fiction (1993) comments on the theme of "Young Goodman Brown."

"All people are sinful and can connect with each other honestly and directly only after facing and confessing this aspect of themselves. But Brown turns away from this insight, lives in terms of social codes, and destroys his life by attempting to preserve his goodness. The tale presents this truth so starkly that, despite the enormous volume of critical commentary on this story, most acknowledge it as the tale's theme. It seems appropriate so many scholars have brought so much attention to this story, since it powerfully evokes one of Hawthorne's central ideas: the destructive consequences of ignoring the disjunction between universal frailty and societal arrogance" (14). (courtesy of Twayne Publishers)



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