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It could be hardly doubted that one of the core characteristics of any human being is the ability to make statements, assumptions, and generalizations based on the inflow of information from the external world. One of the most peculiar manifestations of this ability is the capacity to judge. It is possible to notice that the notion of judgment comprises a very broad range of aspects. For example, it is a foundation of the legal system, and it is a basis for evaluating a person’s actions as well. However, sometimes people tend to abuse their judgemental abilities, both consciously and subconsciously, and this can cause different consequences both for the individual who judges and for the party that is being judged. This paper aims to investigate the possible outcomes of judgemental behavior, based on the material of two literary sources, and its final purpose is to come to a conclusion about the negative influence of such behavioral patterns.
“Young Goodman Brown”
The first literary piece under consideration is the short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, written in 1835 and entitled “Young Goodman Brown.” The author places the name of the primary character into the title, enhancing his leading role in the story. The plot primarily revolves around the trip of the young man into the forest at night. At the beginning of the story, Brown says goodbye to his wife, who is named Faith. He heads to the forest for some “work to be done,” and there he meets his companion, an older man whose name is not mentioned anywhere in the story (Hawthorne 222).
As they proceed, they encounter Brown’s teacher of catechesis, an old lady who appears to be a witch. After a little while, the companion of the young man disappears, and he continues to travel alone. Finally, he finds a mysterious gathering of his village’s people, who appear to be worshipping evil and sin, and they are about to sacrifice Faith (Hawthorne 229). Even though this gathering turns out to be more of Brown’s dream, it leaves a deep scar on his soul from which he cannot recover until his death.
This literary piece offers a vast amount of material to elaborate on. First of all, it is essential to mention the most obvious lesson of the story: people are profoundly affected by the negative images of their significant ones of any kind, and it determines their judgment about them. As it is mentioned in the story, Goodman Brown was not able to forget his dream, and it had an adverse impact on his relationships with his wife. The second point which is worth mentioning is the subtle reference to the corruption of the young man himself. It is not stated directly, but it is obvious that he was heading to the forest to do something wicked. Supposedly, the author implies that an individual tends to judge others when he or she attempts to transfer the responsibility for his or her sins to another person.
Also, it is possible to mention another peculiar aspect of the literary piece under consideration. Goodman Brown’s wife is named Faith, and it is evident that the author did it on purpose. Metaphorically, the story represents relationships between an individual and his or her religion. Of course, this assumption needs future elaboration in a separate analysis. However, it is worth noting that the author’s metaphor of faith being abandoned for sin, which then leads to an individual’s disbelief and judgemental behavior toward his or her religion, is a significantly profound and moving literary device.
“A Good Man is Hard to Find”
The second item under consideration is the short story written by Flannery O’Connor in 1955, which is entitled “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” This work is composed in the literary style which differentiates from the style of the previous story. While Hawthorne’s literary piece was vastly based on imagery and it was written in a vivid language, the item under consideration is the manifestation of a more realistic, yet still moving literary manner.
Considering the plot, this is a story of a family car trip which ends with tragedy. The family comprises grandmother and her son, who has a wife and three kids. In the beginning, they decide to go to Tennessee because grandmother wants to visit the places that she loves and to show them to kids (O’Connor 231). In the middle of the journey, they stop for lunch at the road cafe, and they have a conversation with the host about a criminal on the loose. At one point of the further trip, the road accident happens, and the car falls into the ditch. There the family encounters the Misfit, the previously mentioned criminal (O’Connor 238). He talks to grandmother while his henchmen kill family members one after another, and at the end of the story, the Misfit kills the granny.
At first sight, the story might appear to be lacking an obvious conclusion; however, it is a very complex composition of correlating leitmotifs. It is not possible to investigate each of them to the full extent; nevertheless, the attempt to designate the primary theme will be made. One could argue that one of the central points of the story is the character of the Misfit since he is an example of an individual whose behavior was shaped by the judgments of other people. Of course, the author’s choice to use the imagery of a savage criminal to illustrate this thesis is extravagant and utmost; however, an immense literary effect is reached. When the Misfit tells grandmother that she should not have recognized him, the author might be implying that she should not perceive this man primarily as a criminal. Therefore, it is possible to suggest that O’Connor claims that people are vastly impacted by the judgments of other people and society as a whole.
As it was stated in the beginning, the ability to judge is profoundly inherent in the human nature. However, this capacity does not always have a positive influence on people’s lives. In this brief analysis, two literary pieces concerning the subject matter were investigated. The first story’s lesson is that people can hardly handle the negative imagery of their significant others and thus they become judgemental. Concerning the second story, it is possible to conclude that judgments can have a profound impact on the personality of an individual.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Reading Literature and Writing Argument, edited by James, Missy et al., 6th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 220-230.
O’Connor, Flannery. “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” Reading Literature and Writing Argument, edited by James, Missy et al., 6th ed., Pearson, 2016, pp. 231-242.