This might be the wrong place or way to ask this question but I'll give it a shot. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown", the "protagonist" wakes up from a dream (or vision, maybe even reality) of all his religious towns folks members taking part in blatant evil deeds. The next morning, his perception of everyone changes to the point he (not exactly) distrusts everyone because of what he saw and eventually dies lonely due to his callous nature. Nathaniel made this in order to warn against this type of action or character trait but what is a term for this, this trait? This callous behavior due to an imperfect/changed perspective? Is it a combination of terms?

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    Afraid not about the English language and its usage. Psychology & Neuroscience maybe.
    – Kris
    Mar 22, 2018 at 6:21
  • I'd probably say ask at a literature place, as they'll know the story better and are constantly analysing stories and their meaning.
    – Zebrafish
    Mar 22, 2018 at 6:29
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    The 'protagonist' is acting consistently with his (faulty?) view of the townsfolk, but his hamartia might have been presented as a tragedy (in the drama sense). I'm not sure this is exactly what you're after, though. Would you mind adding some extra information to your question to list the terms you've considered but rejected, and say why you rejected them? You can use the edit link to do this.
    – Lawrence
    Mar 22, 2018 at 9:39
  • This probably belongs on the Philosophy SE, and I'm afraid I haven't read the book (although now I would really like to). But I think the word for the character trait is cynicism.
    – Bread
    Mar 26, 2018 at 2:46

2 Answers 2


How about misanthropy? = "a hatred or distrust of humankind" (Merriam-Webster).

  • Not exactly what I was looking for but a big step in the right direction and it will work. Thank you sir
    – BobserLuck
    Mar 22, 2018 at 9:45

for the Cynic, conventions are often absurd and worthy of ridicule. The Cynics deride the attention paid to the Olympics, the “big thieves” who run the temples and are seen carrying away the “little thieves” who steal from them, politicians as well as the philosophers who attend their courts, fashion, and prayers for such things as fame and fortune.

cynicism (noun) ~ Believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity.

...a cynical person is not necessarily either pessimistic or optimistic. The modern definition of the term focuses narrowly on human motivations. A cynic, according to Webster's Deluxe Unabridged Dictionary, is "a person who believes that people are motivated in all their actions entirely by selfishness."

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