Analysis of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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Analysis of Young Goodman Brown

"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathanial Hawthorne is a short story that is very interesting, as well as entertaining. This essay will first provide a brief summary of the story, followed by an analysis of the importance of symbolism. The nature of evil will then be discussed as it relates to the control of the mind of a once naive and innocent goodman Brown. The climax of the story will be analyzed and the evil within this passage will be discussed and related to the final downfall of goodman Brown.

As "Young Goodman Brown" begins, we are introduced to goodman Brown and his wife Faith as they bid farewell to one another on the streets of Salem village. It is sunset and goodman Brown is setting off on a journey to run a secret errand. We later find out that he is planning on meeting Satan and sacrificing his soul to pure evil. Throughout the story, goodman Brown is tormented by the idea of evil and he is doubtful of weather or not he should continue on his journey. He is finally persuaded, however, when he hears Faith turn herself over to Satan.

Toward the end of the story we find out that this whole excursion may have been a dream, but even so, goodman Brown was so impacted by it that he will never recover to live a peaceful, happy life. He will die a miserable death, with no hopeful verse carved upon his tomb, for as we are told in the final line of the story, `his dying hour was gloom'(pg.585).

Symbolism plays an important role in this story, as it does in many of Hawthornes stories. First of all, the fact that goodman Brown's wife is named Faithis...

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...good and evil as he has been throughout the story, but here it is different because it is the moment of truth in which he would either choose good over evil or evil over good. We never know which he ended up choosing, but it appears that he chose evil because for the rest of his life, he can see no good in anything or anybody. Evil rules his existence as he is haunted by guilt that will not let him enjoy the beautiful things in this world. This choice signifies goodman Brown's final downfall into the arms of evil, as he will be destined to live a life of misery. No good will ever be seen, heard, or understood by goodman Brown again, for he only sees the evil in this world. As we are told in the final passage of this story, when goodman Brown finally leaves this world, "they carved not a hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his final hour was gloom."(pg.585)