How do Hawthorn and Irving use Religion in their Stories
Hawthorn’s story “Young Goodman Brown” and Irving’s story “The devil and the Tom Walker” are stories based on the current situation, happening at the period they are written. The setting in both stories is in the 17th century. In that time, lots of people came from Europe and formed settlements on the American land. The situation was plotted with cultural and religious clashes. That period when people do believe in devils, witches and goblins, and these stories are written based on real events.
The setting in Irving’s story is in Boston, 1727, which can be concluded from the information given in the story. The story reflects religion and social construction at that time. The other story, Hawthorn’s story from the information given about the main character’s ancestors and the vocabulary used for narrating the story can be concluded that the setting is again 17th century but years earlier than the first story mentioned above. Both authors use religion in their stories to describe and depict the way people were thinking and the way they believed.
Hawthorne uses religion to portrait the Puritans and Christian view and what is the nature of people. Irving is simply telling this story by ending that “In fact, the story has resolved itself into a proverb, and is the origin of that popular saying, prevalent throughout New England,” which shows that the story is true to be believed.
Defining the word religion it could be said that is a system of beliefs that people create and believe in. That can be true or not, yet people believe in it.
Hawthorn in “Young Goodman Brown” is describing how Goodman Brown is going on an errand that evening and what happens all the way along. About the religion in this story, a just unbelievable way is described that people used to teach about God and people who catechism are actually going on a meeting with the devil and they take will in communion another witch that night. The religion is used in that way to describe how people can lose their faith and even though some people are worshiping with God they also take a deal with the devil. More or less the religion is used to discover the evil in all people. Going from the fact that was mentioned above, everyone has something evil in them. By narrating what the main character is doing and thinking, it could be implied that Hawthorn is taking into consideration the whole society even the whole humankind.
At the end of the story, the readers are left with the question whether what had happened was real or was just a dream which has to do to with religion and believes. “Still they might have been taken for father and son” (page2) From this sentence is obvious that Goodman meets the devil himself. It is more or less the embodiment of the devil in him. It is the same as he sees himself in that devil. The reason for that is the how the devil is described. “The deacons of many a church have drunk the communion vine with me; the selectmen, of the divers towns, make me their chairman; and a majority of the Great and General Court are firm supporters of my interest.” (page 10) In a way from this statement can be said that the evil is everywhere as the devil is mentioning all those people he knew. That is the point of the story the devil and the witches actually can talk. And another point is that for those things that people can’t find any explanation, so they believe in these stories. “He looked up to the sky, doubting whether there really was a Heaven above him” (page 12) That is the first thing one will do to look for a heaven. Does really heaven exist upon in the sky, so that is why he is looking for it up? That is a common belief and it is also present here in the story. “Now are ye undeceived! Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be our only happiness.” (page 15) From this lines it is clearly stated the Puritan religion view, that evil is in everybody.
Irving in “The devil and the Tom Walker” uses the religion as a later explanation when people got used to hearing and believing in witches and devil. This story is not as exciting as the first one but still comes to the point that if people believed in something they will get used to that and it will not be strange and unknown to them. Throughout the history, the forest became a place where those devils and witches come out and it is a kind of common belief that scares the people to go there at night for the same reason. The last sentence of the story shows that one either believes or not in what had happened. “The old devil stories add, moreover, that the devil presided at the hiding of the money, and took it under his guardianship; but this, it is well known, he always does with buried treasure, particularly when it has been ill-gotten.” (page161) The way that Irving uses religion in this story is by presenting the common belief that the ill-gotten wealth is devil’s job. In other words, someone who has a deal with the devil will earn so much easy wealth selling his soul to the devil for that wealth.
Comparing with the first story Tom is not so much terrified when he sees the devil as Goodman when he finds out that the devil has communion with other important Christian people. “Tom Walker, however, was not a man to be troubled with any fears of that kind” (163) The greedy person like Tom, will not be bothered to go in the dark forest, because he simply does not have a fear. “He prayed loudly and strenuously as if heaven were to be taken by force of lungs. Indeed, one might always tell when he had sinned most during the week, by the clamor of his Sunday devotion.” (169) Once he had made a deal with the devil he thinks that praying and going to the church will save him from the devil. He was even seen reading the Bible when someone would call on business. “The people of Boston shook their heads and shrugged their shoulders, but had been so much accustomed to witches and goblins, and tricks of the devil, in all kinds of shapes, from the first settlement of the colony, that they were not so much horror-struck at might have been expected.”(170) People got used to hearing and believe in those things so they were not bothering of that so much.
In conclusion, Hawthorn simply is narrating the story and use religion as a mean and explanation for lots of questions rising above religious differences. Irving narrates the story using religion as something people got used to believing in. In both stories, those who worship with the devil get what they deserve. Religion is used to give answers on so many questions of what could have happened that in some way makes these stories to look like fables, but also to portrait how the humankind used to lived and pray.