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The Influences on Young Goodman Brown and Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

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The stories of “Young Goodman Brown” and “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” encompass different aspects of religion, the perspective of vengeance, the role of clergy, and the use of allegory and direct address. The way of writing in these two stories are done very well and allowed for the stories to be expressed to the reader in a fashion that delivered every word to the forefront of the readers’ mind. These four points are quite difficult to understand due to the text being very complicated because the form of writing is a lot older than today’s use of the language. This makes the comparison of these two stories very difficult, but never the less here they are.

The religious influences on these two stories are very evident. In the story of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” religion is the main focus of the entire story. The story reflects the idea of God throwing down the race of man, and that God only lets us stay away from the depths of hell because of only his will. One of the defining quotes in this story was “The corruption of the heart of man is immoderate and boundless in its fury; and while wicked men live here, it is like fire pent up by God’s restraint.” (Baym, 212) This quote has religious influences from different devotions of Christianity that view God as more of a force to be afraid of; although, this story amplifies this to a whole new level. The second story being “Young Goodman Brown”, is comparatively more focused on the evil doings of the devil, rather than God being almost the villain of the writing. One of the lines that really made me think about the rest of the writing was when Goodman Brown said, “What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow.” (Baym, 620) Although most would believe that this has no impact on the story, I think it actually is the main lesson and influence from religion that we know of today. The way I interpreted this was due to the fact that in common day Christianity some are taught that the devil walks among each and every person, trying to tempt us with acts of sin. This line is really the beginning of the connection between the devil and the man on the path that Goodman Brown is walking with. Between the stories of “Young Goodman Brown” and “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” the use of religious influence is done in a different way, but either way is clearly evident in the writing.

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Another difference between these two stories is the perspective of revenge. One story shows how God himself can bring revenge upon man, while the other demonstrates revenge of man. In the first story of “Young Goodman Brown,” there is a historical connection of the Salem Witch Trials. This is the perfect story to represent the anger of man and their use of revenge on their fellow people. A quote that sums up the reason for revenge on behalf of man is this “The witch hunts often involved accusations based on revenge, jealousy, [and] botched child delivery.” (SparkNotes LLC, 1) The basic summary is that due to people’s anger caused their thirst of revenge to grow until they released it by accusing people of witchcraft. The difference in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is that man has no power of revenge, especially on God and that he is almighty. The way that Sinners uses revenge is very different from Goodman Brown by instead of showing revenge against two equal beings, he shows revenge between a higher being and its “peasants.” Now the story does later reflect how God currently restrains his anger and in thought, his vengeance. The overall difference stands clearly in the way the writers express the anger and rage of both God and man.

In conclusion, the story of Goodman Brown and “Sinners in the Hands of Angry God” express differences not only in the writing style but also the use of revenge and pent up anger to either bring torment to fellow man or to the underlings of an almighty God. The other important difference was the religious influence on these stories and how the stories defined different parts of Christianity and expressed to the extreme. The sorties in total summary encompass the overall concept of Christianity on a whole, and this is the similarity between the stories although it is very slim.

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