Most criticism and reflection of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young
Goodman Brown centers on a good versus evil theme. Critics also debate
interpretations of the main character's consciousness; is Brown awake or
dreaming. What is certain is that he lives and dies in pain because his
belief in his righteousness isolates him from his community. It is also
certain that Hawthorne's interpretation of Brown's "mid-life crisis" has
ambiguity and leaves a reader with many different feelings about what and
why certain things have happened. Hawthorne's use of symbolism in his
allegorical tale Young Goodman Brown causes the main character's
revelations about the sin within his community, his family and himself.
Young Goodman Brown's journey into the forest is best defined as a
kind of "general, indeterminate allegory, representing man's irrational
drive to leave faith, home, and security temporarily behind, for whatever
reason, and take a chance with one(more) errand onto the wilder shores of
experience" (Martin). Brown has a curiosity that "kills" his naive
outlook on life and changes him until his death. He has a mission to go
into the forest and meet the devil. A mission that he begins out of
curiosity and a "deep need to see if the teachings of his childhood, his
religion, and his culture, have armed him sufficiently to look the devil in
the face and return unscathed" (Hodara 1). The symbol of the forest, late
at night, can be interpreted as the untamed regions of Brown's heart where
the devil roams freely as he roams in the forest. The forest is the devil's
... middle of paper ...
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Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The Great Short Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Ed.
Fredrick C. Crews. New York: Barnes and Noble, Inc., 1992.
"Hawthorne, Nathaniel," Microsoft (R) Encarta. Microsoft Corporation. Funk
& Wagnall's Corporation, 1994.
Hodara, Alan. "Some Thoughts On Young Goodman Brown."
(26 Oct. 1996).
Jones, Madison. "Nathaniel Hawthorne." Short Story Criticism. Vol 3.
Detriot: Gale, 1989.
MaGill, Frank, ed. Critical Survery of Short Fiction. Englewood Cliffs,
NJ: Salam Press, 1981.
Martin, Terence. "Nathaniel Hawthorne." Short Story Criticism. Vol 3.
Detriot: Gale, 1989.
Mikosh, Bert A., "A View of Young Goodman Brown."
Segura, Gilberto. "The Allegorical Goodman Brown."
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