Nathaniel Hawthorne 's Young Goodman Brown Essay

Nathaniel Hawthorne 's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne 's short story "Young Goodman Brown”, the abundant use of symbolism, mystery and suspense captures the reader’s attention almost immediately. From the beginning and throughout the entirety of the story, Hawthorne leads the reader into asking themselves the questions, "What is all of the symbolism, mysticism, characters, and scenery actually representing?" Hawthorne masterfully uses this symbolism to show Goodman Brown’s unconscious struggle with his personal religious faith and his faith in humankind.
Hawthorne immediately uses the very name of Goodman Brown 's wife, Faith, as a symbol of Brown’s own faith throughout the story. Goodman Brown 's faith is shown through the initial description of his wife Faith, "And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap" (Hawthorne 452). Hawthorne is alluding to the fact that his wife is of pure heart and innocent given her name and the pink ribbons she adorned in her cap. Although it is apparent that both he and his wife are aware of the fact that Brown is about to partake in a sinful journey, Goodman Brown 's belief in his faith will bring him home safely and untainted. When Goodman Brown initially approaches the dark figure in the forest, the dark figure lets him know that he is late, to which Goodman Brown replies, "Faith kept me back awhile" (Hawthorne 453). This shows that his “Faith” never wanted him to partake in this journey to begin with. Brown’s faith in humankind is shaken when made aware of the fact that the dark figure has an unsavory acquaintance with members of Brown’s family and prominent members of the community. Goodman Brown quickly tries to distance himself f...


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...e. The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon." (Hawthorne 457). This symbolizes Brown 's loss of his “Faith”, referring to both his wife and his faith in humanity.
Hawthorne uses the magnitude of the journey through the forest and the Black Sabbath as a representation of all the sin and evil that surrounds us in this world. In the end, Goodman Brown remains resolute in his own moral beliefs, but he has lost his faith in humankind as a whole. Goodman Brown 's eventual loss of faith in the world and his fellow man has made him unforgiving and he believes nothing can or will ever be done to change the evil ways of those around him. Rather than seeing the good in people and their actions and forgiving their sins, Goodman Brown only frowns upon them and believes people, even those who are close to him, to be hypocrites and not who they represent themselves to be.

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