Nathaniel Hawthorne's " Young Goodman Brown " is the story of a young man faced with the reality that evil is a part of human nature. The story illustrates how naiveté can drive a person to lunacy. Young Goodman Brown, who symbolizes that Puritan " every man, " is shocked when he sees respected clergymen and women of his village at the devil's communion. His disbelief that it is normal and acceptable to be intrinsically evil causes him to live a life of despair. In the story, symbolism and irony are cleverly implemented to show that no one is completely good or evil, and that the tension between these opposites is where power to progress onward is generated. There are more elements to the story than just the battle of good vs. evil. Sexuality also becomes an issue in the story.
At the beginning of the story, Young Goodman Brown bids farewell to his young wife. The particular aspect of his life that she represents is illustrated by her name " Faith. " Faith " ...thrusts her pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap... " (Hawthorne 272). Already the dynamic symbolism between nature and the home is set up. Nature, particularly the wind, forest, and darkness symbolizes sinfulness and evil. The home, specifically Faith and her pink ribbons, symbolizes the perceived safety and security of the Puritan community as asylum from the sin of the rest of the world.
Goodman Brown begins his journey into the woods. He reprimands himself for leaving Faith on such an errand, but promises to " cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven " (Hawthorne 272) when he returns. This " errand " is never clarified, but it...
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Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown" An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Alison Reeves. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995.
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