Critical Analysis Of Young Goodman Brown

1199 Words5 Pages
Critical Analysis of Young Goodman Brown
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story of Young Goodman Brown is a reflection of the Puritan faith as well as man’s conflict between good and evil. This analysis will emphasize on the theme of Young Goodman Brown as well Hawthorne’s usage of symbolism and allegories throughout the story.
Literary critic D.M. McKeithan says that the theme of the story is sin and the terrible effect sin has on mankind. McKeithan also believes that the theme to Hawthorne’s; Young Goodman Brown, is based on the ability that evil has to persuade man to do wrong and the falseness of man’s virtues. The protagonist in the story, Brown, journeyed in the woods where he discovered that his Puritan community is not virtuous. Brown discovered that the entire community including his wife, whom is portrayed as being pure, indulges in sin and therefore Brown’s life turns dark due to his loss of hope. Literary critic Mark Van Doren states:
“Young Goodman Brown'; means exactly what it says, namely that its hero left his pretty young wife one evening … to walk by himself in a primitive New England woods, the Devil’s territory,…and either to dream or actually to experience (Hawthorne will not say) the discovery that evil exist in every human heart…Brown is changed. He thinks there is no good on earth…Brown, waking from his dream, if it was a dream,…sees evil even where it is not…He had stumbled upon that “mystery of sin'; which, rightly understood, provides the only sane and cheerful view of life there is. Understand in Brown’s fashion, if darkens and sours the world, withering hope and charity, and perverting whatever is truly good until it looks like evil at its worst: like blasphemy and hypocrisy. (Van Doren 234)
McKeithan says that Hawthorne is saying that in every human heart there is sin, but the story does not emphasize on sin alone, it emphasizes on the effects of sin. McKeithan states that to interpret Young Goodman Brown, the reader must make the distinction between sin and the effects of sin.
Literary critic David Levin says that Brown allows the Devil’s statements about the persecution of Indians and the Quakers allows him to accept the false statements of the Devil. Therefore Brown fails to distinguish the difference between a single person and actions of people as a whole. Levin says that Hawthorne’s way of writing Young Goodman Brown gives a clear interpretation of the meaning.
Open Document