Nathaniel Hawthorne 's Young Goodman Brown Essay

Nathaniel Hawthorne 's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible,” was once said by the Catholic priest Thomas Aquinas. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown,” Goodman Brown strays from his faith, resulting in a miserable life. At the beginning of the story, he rejects the wishes of his wife, aptly named Faith, to stay home with her. Instead, Goodman Brown goes on a journey with the wicked old man. The man tests Brown’s integrity and character; Brown is unable to stop himself from following the devil, as the devil gives Brown the only faith he has – to follow him. Once Brown sees Faith’s pink ribbons in the forest, he rages. He becomes a wicked man, haunting over everything in the wicked woods. However, Brown later sees Faith at the ceremony, and when he sees her, he snaps back into reality and returns home. Nathaniel Hawthorne, a descendent of the Puritans, uses Goodman Brown’s character to show his disapproval of his ancestors; Brown leaves his faith, not only his wife but also his actual faith, and as a result lives the rest of his life in despair.
At the beginning of the story, Goodman Brown’s name is discovered to be quite ironic. Faith begs of him to stay the night and postpone the journey, as this is the night she needs him most. Instead of living up to his name and showing faith in Faith, Brown dismisses his wife’s needs: “My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must be done ‘twixt now and sunrise” (640). Already, Brown has displayed his selfish behavior. He refuses to listen to his wife’s wishes, and seems content on his decision to ignore her. After leaving her alone at home for the night, he says, “Poor little Faith! What a wretch am I to leave her o...


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...oyage. After seeing Faith in the forest, seemingly brainwashed by the devil, Goodman Brown abandons all of his inner convictions and lets the man get the best of him. He flies around the forest with a malignant aura. However, when Brown sees Faith for a second time in the forest, his faith returns, which frees himself from the devil. Moreover, Hawthorne uses this story as a metaphor for the Puritans. Because the Puritans rejected their faith and emigrated from the Church of England, Hawthorne believes it was an atrocious act. He uses the character of Faith to represent the actual faith of religion. Goodman Brown spurns Faith for the majority of the story, but when he needs her most, she liberates him from the ceremony. By accentuating Faith’s role both metaphorically and physically, Hawthorne underscores its importance to life, for a life without faith ends in gloom.

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