Theme Essay Young Goodman Brown

574 Words2 Pages
“Young Goodman Brown”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, delves into the classic battle between good and evil; taking the protagonist, Goodman Brown, on a journey to test the resolve of his faith. Goodman ventures out on his expedition deep into the sinister forest, in order to repudiate the attempt of the devil to sway him from Christianity; a test he believes his devout faith is prepared to confront. Goodman Brown is forever altered in ways unforeseeable by taking a stroll with the ultimate antagonist, the devil himself. The prevailing theme in this literary work, which is common in Hawthorne’s gothic writing, is the realization that evil can infect people who seem perfectly respectable. Throughout the course of his journey, Goodman Brown discovers that even highly reputable people of Salem are vulnerable to the forces of darkness.
Goodman Brown embarks on his journey into the forest with the fervent belief that his potent dedication is indomitably ironclad, and thus will be able to overcome even the most tempting persuasions of the devil. As Goodman and the devil continue sauntering along the serpentine path, they encounter Goodman’s old catechism teacher, Goody Cloyse, and it is eventually revealed that she is heading to the satanic occult meeting at the core of the forest. Goodman is absolutely confounded at the sight of her, as he had always considered Cloyse as a moral and spiritual guide in his life. Goody Cloyse’s appearance is the first moment where Goodman begins to question his faith. Brown's illusions about the purity of his society are finally obliterated when he discovers that many of his fellow townspeople, including religious leaders and his wife (aptly named Faith), are attending a Black Mass or “witch-meeting”. At the end of the story, it is not clear whether Brown's experience was a nightmare or biting reality, but the results are nonetheless the same. Brown is unable to forgive the possibility of evil in his loved ones, and as a result spends the rest of his life in desperate loneliness and gloom.
At the beginning of his journey, Goodman Brown’s will and pride were both embedded in the belief that he was a pious man. Goodman’s pride in piety evidently fails him, as he discovers that his faith was based on the principles of individuals who had sworn allegiance to the devil. This deplorable truth destroyed his conviction, and in this sense the devil prevailed against Goodman Brown.
Open Document