Character Analysis Of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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“Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an interesting tale about the struggle of choosing between good and evil. Throughout the story, Goodman Brown encounters characters while journeying towards an evil ceremony, and while travelling, Brown briefly encounters a variety of characters that are all gathered in the climatic final scene. Hawthorne, however, vividly uses language to describe his main characters. Therefore, the same language patterns can be used to draw conclusions about the final group of characters that we know so little about. For example, Hawthorne creatively uses color as a method of revealing the dispositions of Goodman Brown, Faith, and the Devil in order to infer the natures of minor characters homogeneously described…show more content…
That is to say, that Goodman Brown is inexplicably attracted to evil, yet once he comes in contact with evil, he shies away, culminating to create an indecisive character, thus generating the idea of his “brown” disposition. Initially, Brown seems to be nothing more than a happy newlywed, until Hawthorne unexpectedly twists the story, and Brown leaves his new wife, Faith, with the intention of participating in an evil ritual. Any guilt Brown feels in beginning the journey is quelled by thoughts Faith’s virtue, which he believes will secure him a place in heaven, and having so calmed himself, he feels “justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose” (Hawthorne 1346). However, shortly upon venturing into a dark forest, Brown’s resolve soon begins to fade, and he even refuses to continue the journey at one point saying, “Not another step will I budge on this errand” (Hawthorne 1349). Brown’s reluctance to fully commit to either the light or the dark illustrates…show more content…
Curiously, when Hawthorne is describing Faith, her most often mentioned feature is her pink ribbons. In the first six short paragraphs alone, her ribbons are mentioned a surprising three times. Neither is Hawthorne subtle in drawing attention towards them, as it is said that Faith “thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap” (Hawthorne 1346). Consequently, we can conclude that Faith’s ribbons must be significant within the story, and I argue that their color is especially telling, as it reveals something about her character. Paul Hurley, who wrote “Young Goodman Brown’s ‘Heart of Darkness,’” which primarily argues that Brown is evil, agrees that the ribbons must be an important part of the story. Hurley argues that because “Hawthorne concentrates so intensely on Faith’s ribbons, and their effect on Goodman Brown is so devastating, that one may assume they were intended as an important symbol” (416). While I agree with Hurley that the ribbons are an important symbol, his interpretation of what they represent is a bit awkward. Essentially, he likens their frivolity to Faith’s skirts, which Brown intends to clutch as he follows her into heaven, meaning that Brown merely hopes to observe religious practices rather than actively engage in them (416). Instead, I suggest that
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