The Dark Duality of Romanticism in 'Young Goodman Brown'

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People’s inherent personality traits come from their core values. Within these values exists an innate duality of both light and dark characteristics; this coincides with the ideas of Dark Romanticism, which aim to normalize the darker desires of people’s minds. Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’ embodies Dark Romantic ideals like innate evil and sin, which reveal how human nature is more complex than it seems and has a conflicted, inherent dark side.

Characteristics of Dark Romanticism, such as elements of sin and the power of one’s desires, are displayed through Goodman Brown’s exploration and self-awareness of his own evil encounters. As Goodman Brown ventures into the forest in the middle of the night, he “vanishes into the deepening gloom”. This description creates a deeper fear of the forest and shows the role it plays for Brown’s acceptance of his previously rejected evilness. Goodman Brown is “conscious of the guilty purpose that had brought him” on this exploration, and throughout it becomes aware of his complex, innate desires that were also previously repressed. This is all made possible by the darker elements of the forest which create a safe place where Brown’s hesitations can be released. The forest’s darkness is representative of Dark Romantic beliefs that foster Brown’s journey to freedom and expression of his kept needs. Once he outwardly admits his “faith is gone,” he fully embraces the sin that taints him. In doing so, Brown becomes a supporter of Dark Romantic ideals of how evil and selfishness are at the core of every human being’s existence.

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Goodman Brown also encounters the Dark Romantic ideals of corruption as his descent into the forest shines a light on his ancestor’s complexity and evilness. After Brown’s journey, he comes to understand impure tendencies aren’t grown but are rather inherent. After looking at his wife, Faith, he fully understands and wonders “what polluted wretches would the next glance show”, implying the impurity within others. He has fully accepted evil as the norm of all human nature, coming to an understanding that even his family and his ancestors have not been “a race of honest men and good Christians”. Once the devil reveals these hidden traits of his family, Brown becomes immersed in the fact that his perception of family is false and their experimentation with their complexity is true. His now corrupted viewpoint reveals his certainty that “there is no good on earth”, meaning he has lost faith in his wife and family. Various aspects of the nature of sin and human inevitability to be evil all correlate to Dark Romantics ideals and further prove Goodman Brown’s realization of his family’s complexity and evilness.

Vital concepts of Dark Romanticism are prevalent in Goodman Brown’s journey with innate sin and ultimately play a deeper role in exploring the complex evil within people. Dark Romanticism is a vital theme showing how prone people are to sin, but also proves how standard it is. Considering it’s a basic part of all people, lack of acknowledgment only furthers its misunderstanding and the dismissal of complexity, rejecting how prevalent it is in all life.

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The Dark Duality of Romanticism in ‘Young Goodman Brown’. (2022, September 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 18, 2024, from
“The Dark Duality of Romanticism in ‘Young Goodman Brown’.” Edubirdie, 01 Sept. 2022,
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