Young Goodman Brown

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The Hero’s Journey of Young Goodman Brown

Young Goodman Brown undergoes the hero’s journey in the story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The hero’s journey is a common guideline of events that many writers use in stories to show the physical, mental, and/or emotional transformation the main character or protagonist undergoes throughout the story. It starts with a call to adventure and a supernatural aid. It is then followed by a road of trials and a symbolic death. In the end, the character has a moment of epiphany or realization and then a return. Hawthorne uses all of these in order to show the loss of innocence in Young Goodman Brown as he experiences the hero’s journey.

Young Goodman Brown is about a young, newly wedded man who leaves his wife, Faith, and to go on a journey into the forest one night. Young Goodman Brown has an innocent and maybe even naïve soul and was looked upon by townspeople as a “silly fellow” (Hawthorne 83). He is accompanied by a mysterious, older man who is later on revealed to be the devil. As they are walking, Young Goodman Brown tries to turn back several times and at one point succeeds in getting rid of the devil. However, when he sees that even his wife has surrendered to the same evil path that he was on, he stops resisting and continues into the forest. He ends up at a witches’ sabbath where he sees familiar faces of people whom he previously looked up to for spiritual guidance; he also finds Faith there and becomes devastated. In the end, he cries out to resist the devil and then wakes up to find himself alone in the forest.

The call to adventure is when Young Goodman Brown decides to go out that night into the forest. It is not clear to what exactly the motivation for it is except for that it is for an “evil purpose” (81). It could be assumed though that Young Goodman Brown had doubts in his faith in God and was curious about this mysterious event that was taking place that night. It also seemed like Young Goodman Brown had been thinking about it for awhile and had set his mind to this night because it seemed like he had an appointment with the other traveler when he was told that he was fifteen minutes late.

The other traveler is the supernatural aid component of the hero’s journey.

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