The Notions of Death and Sin in “Young Goodman Brown”

Satisfactory Essays
“Young Goodman Brown”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a symbolic journey through a young Puritan man’s soul. The protagonist, young Goodman Brown, treks into the dark and gloomy forest, which can also symbolize a retreat into his own being. As a Puritan, Brown believes he can resist all evil, which led him to feel “justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose” (Hawthorne, 14). On his journey Brown meets a man on the side of the road holding a serpent staff, alluding to a devilish symbol. Unable to resist temptation, this devilish allusion, in a form resembling Brown’s father, lures him deeper into the forest. The deeper he trekked and saw the evil side of his Puritan people, the more he became one with the darkness in his own soul. Hawthorne’s notions of sin and death are represented in the allusion to original sin and the Fall of Man, the hidden sin within his community and the death of Goodman Brown’s own faith.
Original sin and the Fall of Man in this story, take on the perspective of the Puritan or Christian faith. In this context it refers to the temptation in the Garden of Eden which Adam succumbs to, resulting in the idea that evil exists in man; past present and future. The devil tempts him with the forbidden fruit and Adam eats from the Tree of Knowledge. Goodman Brown symbolizes Adam, as Brown’s curiosity out ways his resistance to temptation leading him deeper into the forest. Goodman Brown tries to resist this temptation by stating that “[m]y father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians” (Hawthorne, 15). The companion claims that he has been acquainted with his family and all the Puritans citing many sp...

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...kness to illustrate the notions of sin and death in “Young Goodman Brown”. The power of evil is evident as the protagonist never recovers from what he experienced or returns to what he knew. Although the symbols of each character are not necessarily identified explicitly, Hawthorne’s symbolically paints a vivid image of the path young Goodman Brown follows. The tone, gothic imagery, and symbolism, are flowing from the shining light of good, slowly unraveling to a climax of evil, with no apparent chance of returning, as temptation, curiosity and ultimately sin take over and destroy the spirit and soul of young Goodman Brown for the rest of his existence.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown,” The Harbrace Anthology of Short Fiction, 5th edition. Eds. John C. Stott, Raymond E. Jones. Toronto: Nelson Education Inc., 2006 (pp. 13-22). Print.
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