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Prompt: Compare the causes or the consequences of Hulga's disillusionment with that of Young Goodman Brown in Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown."
When a person is confident, he or she is sure about the nature or facts of something. However, the sureness of something does not make the nature or facts true. Consequently, confidence sometimes causes a person to accept observations or speculations as facts. In short stories "Young Goodman Brown" and "Good Country People," Nathaniel Hawthorne and Flannery O' Connor reveal that confidence can cause a person to overlook deception. As is evident in the short stories, protagonists Goodman Brown's and Hulga's confidence are the causes of their disillusionment.
From the beginning of the short story, Hulga exhibits her confidence in a proudly contemptuous manner. Hulga believes that her PH.D shows her scholarly understanding of everything and gives her high standing above others. She impertinently calls Mrs. Freeman's daughters "Glycerin and Carmel" rather than their proper names Glynese and Carramae (100). By doing so, she insults the girls, nicknaming them after a liquid of fat and a chewy candy. Clearly, her confidence in her educational background inflicts others in a condescending manner. Hulga then meets Manley Pointer, a nineteen-year-old bible salesman, who presents himself as "just a [simple] country boy" (105). She perceives Pointer as an innocent and devout Christian boy. Moreover, she believes that he has an undeveloped understanding of life. Thus, she thinks that her "true genius can get an idea across...to an inferior mind" (109). This continuance belief that she is superior displays her naiveté. She later tells him, "I am thirty years old...I have a number of degrees" (112). Through Hulga's patronizing speech, she presents herself to Pointer as a woman of experience and strong educational background. Such confidence is haughty and arrogant.
In contrast, Goodman Brown exhibits his confidence less explicitly. Goodman Brown self-assuredly regards his wife, Faith, as a person of virtue. He states, "she's a blessed angel on earth" (81). Goodman Brown's confidence in his wife's goodness leads him to compare her to angel. Unlike Hulga, Goodman Brown reveals his confidence mentally. As also shown in his acknowledge of Goody Cloyse as "a very pious and exemplary dame, who had taught his catechism in youth" (83). Through Goodman Brown's experiences with his wife and his spiritual advisor, he recognizes them as innocent people, believing that they are pure and uncorrupted by evil.
Unfortunately, the protagonists' confidence causes their disenchantment. In the process of Hulga's boastfulness and confidence, she is misled by the Pointer's geniality and innocence. Pointer's hypocrisy is revealed when he takes Hulga's artificial leg and shows her the whiskey, a pack of cards with obscene picture, and a box of condoms. In disbelief, Hulga states, "You're a fine Christian! You're just like them all-say one thing and do another" (114). Hulga is manipulated and outsmarted by Pointer's façade. Her intelligence results in her current predicament, as her confidence prohibited her from completely evaluate her acquaintance's motives. Similarly, Goodman Brown discovers that Faith and Goody Cloyse have been tempted by the devil. Because of the wild dream of witch meeting, he becomes "a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man" (89). Goodman Brown's confidence of their innocence is demolished by the epiphany that pious people can be evil.