Religion is such a strong element in the society that suggests whether or not a person should be accepted as morally acceptable. Many times, critics of religion has judged this particular factor of social foundation to be rather hypocritical and judgmental in many forms. William Faulkner’s A Rose for Emily and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown specifically tries to expose several points for thinking as they try to embody religion as part of the society and as a form of controlling element among human individuals. Relatively, Faulkner tries to identify the being of Emily Grierson in a way that she was considered mysterious, having particular issues with her personality especially when it comes to her privacy and a certain point of being secretive about her being. On the other end, Hawthorne tries to embody the general members of the current human population as they intend to ‘just follow’ the norms including the paths that religious groups provide them with. The indication of faith and its being shaky because of being a baseless is then given particular description in the story of Goodman Brown.
True, as presented by Hawthorne in his story on Goodman Brown, religion could both make and break a person depending on how the individual specifically remarks his faith as part of his being. In the discussion that follows, a particular inquiry about the basic impact of religion in the human society shall be given specific attention to especially in relation to how Hawthorne and Faulkner described the said phenomena in their written works. Following the course of how religion has actually lead the society into a condition of a disdain distinction on morality and righteousness, the selected writings to be examined in this discussion are to be cross-related to the actual situations happening around the globe today especially relating to religious issues. Two particular focal points shall be given attention to in the discussion, mainly the issue of religious judgment and the issues regarding a person’s quality of faith and belief.
In the story A Rose for Emily, the main character Emily Grierson, was noted to have a specific striking impact among her town’s people. Being a private individual, Emily wants to do matters her own way. As if not wanting to follow what the local rules impose on the people, she wants to follow her own disdain regulations about how she ought to live. In a way, she considers herself specifically having power that is higher than the government thus making her capable of making her own decisions especially with regards the law and its elements that she would like to follow. To this, the line in the story reads, “Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town […]. (1.3)”; basing from this particular statement, it could be understood how the being of Emily was considered to be a particular element in her society that defines a whole lot of sense of how he people recognized themselves in par with her. Although she was considered eccentric, there are those who relay themselves based on who she was. Particularly, the same thing is true with religion today; while people tend to say that it is just an elemental factor that should not be given too much attention to, religion is able to dictate the people with what is right and what is not especially in consideration with the matters they decide to engage themselves in.
On the other end, Hawthorne’s story on Goodman Brown reflects the overall condition of faith among religious believers worldwide. Although there are particular exceptions to the matter, the attitude that Brown presents is a rather relative condition among majority of faithful believers of several religious affiliations around the globe. While they may present themselves faithful, their actions do not provide the same sense of understanding their belief. Shaky, as Hawthorne tends to describe it, most people choose to believe on something on baseless reasons, therefore, when a new idea comes in, they begin to question their base thoughts and decide to be directed differently according to the new idea that they have been presented with. How Brown’s faith has been specifically destructed by the devil could be understood through the implications of the following lines from the story:
But, irreverently consorting with these grave, reputable, and pious people, these elders of the church, these chaste dames and dewy virgins, there were men of dissolute lives and women of spotted fame, wretches given over to all mean and filthy vice, and suspected even of horrid crimes. It was strange to see that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints…(Hawthorne)
Observably, this line provides a distinct manner of describing how the new ideas or the new source of belief that was presented to Brown broke the basis of his faith. With this, it was easy for the ‘devil’ to push him away from what he strongly believed to be true and self-defining in the past.
Considerably, Faulkner’s provision of social control on the characterization of Emily in his story, points out how religious groups tend to control the minds of their believers. This sense of control is rather embodied in the being of Brown in Hawthorne’s writing. No matter what control a religion has on a person, the quality of one’s faith on the teachings and traditions of the said belief is what makes such control effective. Once such belief is defined baseless, the said authority loses its power on a person. Having contradicting thoughts, a person begins to specifically identify themselves differently from what they used to believe, some begin to question whether they have actually been good or not, in a way breaking themselves. True to its sense, it could be understood that depending on the quality of one’s faith, the capacity of religion to make or break a person’s being become evidently affective on how a person develops personally. This is the reason why today, a majority of the number of individuals in the society resort to having no religion at all, as they believe that the moral being of a person cannot be dictated by anyone or anything else but themselves. This fact could be related to Hawthorne’s story as it notes:
“By the sympathy of your human hearts for sin ye shall scent out all the places—whether in church, bedchamber, street, field, or forest—where crime has been committed, and shall exult to behold the whole earth one stain of guilt, one mighty blood spot.”(Hawthorne)
Relatively, to avoid breaking themselves from the idea of realizing their being unacceptable, they tend to get out from the controls of religion and live their lives according to what they know is right and acceptable.
Overall, it could be realized that religion [both its existence and inexistence] create a great impact on the society’s recognition of morality and acceptability of individuals living among the general population. Most often than not, being judgmental and all, religious groups are able to define the sense of morality even higher than what the law suggests what is right and acceptable in the society. Is this matter right or not? Only the quality of faith of the believer would actually define such contrast on understanding what is morally acceptable and what is relatively immoral in their eyes. There is however an unchangeable fact, whether a person is religious or not, there are ground rules in the society that one must follow, as it is always noted: ‘no one is above the law’.