In "Young Goodman Brown," the story's protagonist embarks on a metaphorical errand on which he plans to confront the evil within himself. Unprepared to accept this as part of his human nature, he instead rejects it, ultimately prescribing his own doom.
The fantastic spirit of Young Goodman's travel is revealed at the story's outset, when he holds an appointment with a mysterious individual and must leave his wife, Faith, behind for the adventure. When he departs, his "Faith" protests: "pray thee, put off your journey," she pleads, fearing the possibility that he may not return. This is the first element of the metaphor: Brown's spiritual, Christian self risks being overwhelmed on this errand, revealing the journey's introspective nature. Author Hawthorne later reemphasizes this idea when Brown meets with his older self, who asks why Brown is late for their rendezvous. "Faith kept me back awhile," he responds, admitting his initial hesitation.
Though Goodman Brown balks at making this spiritual trek without the security of his religious virtue, he must make it alone: he cannot allow the bias of his Christian upbringing to confuse the true strength of his character, for he likely regards this journey as a cleansing. "After this one night," he says of Faith, "I'll cling to her skirts and follow her into Heaven." He feels he must first face his demons to deserve entry into the kingdom of God.
When Brown encounters the shadowy figure with whom he has planned his journey, Hawthorne makes it quite clear that the stranger is in some way a reflection of Goodman Brown: "the second traveler was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman B...
... middle of paper ...
... evils. Hawthorne illustrates his commentary when he has Brown meet Faith on his way to church: "she skipt along the street, and almost kissed her husband before the whole village. But, Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting." In his righteousness, he turns his back on his own faith. Ultimately, he distances himself from God while attempting to distance himself from evil. Brown's "dying hour was gloom"; his demand for absoluteness drives him to reject himself and damn his own soul. Hawthorne warns us not to make the same error, for "The fiend in his own shape is less hideous, than when he rages in the breast of man."
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. 5th ed. Eds. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle Riva: Prentice Hall, 1988.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- "Young Goodman Brown" was published in 1835, when Nathaniel Hawthorne was 31 years old. Hawthorne was born and reared in Salem, Massachusetts, a village still permeated by its 17th century Puritanism. When he was four, Hawthorne's father died, and from that point on he was surrounded mostly by females: two sisters, a maiden aunt, and a retiring mother who was not close to her children. He had little contact with his deceased father's family, but his maternal relatives were supportive and saw to it that he attended college, the first in his family to do so (Turner 33).... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
1153 words (3.3 pages)
- Young Goodman Brown in Historical Context In order to grasp the allegory Hawthorne uses in Young Goodman Brown, the story needs to be considered in a way that recognizes the blending of its historical background at the time of the Salem Witch trials and its relationship to religious symbolism within that perspective. By understanding the Puritan beliefs about sin, the forest and their own inherent faith, it becomes easier for the reader to understand the deeper meaning of Goodman Brown’s journey into the forest.... [tags: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, Puritan]
1210 words (3.5 pages)
- Mankind has a history of turning away from God and embracing evil. From the days of Cain to the present, there is a chain of men and women who have forsaken the promise of salvation in favor of what we call Satanism. Literature has sought to record this turning away in many instances. Even today, alternative, rebellious youths practice pseudo-Satanism. However, what remains unclear is the surviving appeal of the essentially self-defeating religion. Dr. Faustus sells his soul to the Devil in return for worldly success.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown, YGB]
746 words (2.1 pages)
- There are two different types of conflict. Internal conflict is an emotional challenge that the protagonist in the story deals with. On the other hand, external conflict is an outside force that gives the protagonist an obstacle to overcome. In “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and in “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, the characters deal with conflict that keeps readers’ attention throughout the story. These two stories compare to one another because the protagonist tries to cope with betrayal and the majority of characters conforming to society; however, they differ because one deals with only external conflict and the other deals with both internal and external conflict.... [tags: Short story, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Lottery]
1734 words (5 pages)
- Nathanial Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown” presents, through the use of clear symbolism and allegory, a narrative on the evil nature of mankind, particularly in a society where the motivation to be morally upstanding is entirely extrinsic. Throughout the text there are numerous references to symbolism, as well as imagery and symbolism that present themselves in the context of the story. There are also Formalist criticism focus on the presentation of a story as a unique unit, existing outside of any influence from outside society, culture, or time.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown]
775 words (2.2 pages)
- Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is the coming of age story of a Puritan man who embarks on an evening-long journey to test the resolve of his faith against the evil held in the world. The events of the journey witnessed by him will forever change his perspective of the world in an ironic way, as it would not be his resolve in his faith that would not be tested. Instead, he was given the opportunity to learn a valuable truth in that faith alone does not breed pure righteousness in man.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sin]
1091 words (3.1 pages)
- In 1835, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a short story called “Young Goodman Brown.” This story takes place in the woods of Salem Village, Massachusetts. The main character, Goodman Brown, walks into the forest one night and meets a number of town members participating in what seems like a witch ceremony. It changes his outlook on the village people. The entire short story takes place in one night and the morning after. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great grandfather served as a judge on the salem witch trials in 1692 and sentenced twenty five women to death.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown]
1654 words (4.7 pages)
- Puritans believe that human nature is pre destined, something decided by God before birth. This viewpoint has been present since the early 1600’s but is not the only side to this coin. Romanticism beliefs are quite the opposite, evolving in the 19th Century, focusing on human emotion rather than a sacred belief. Romanticism also states that humans are inherently good, as opposed to the Puritans predestined beliefs. Nathaniel Hawthorne the author of Young Goodman Brown was born into the romantic era.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown]
1301 words (3.7 pages)
- 5. Nathaniel Hawthorne--"Young Goodman Brown." Discuss the story as an example of Gothic Romanticism. “Young Goodman Brown,” one of the stories in The Norton Anthology of American literature, fits into a sub-genre of American Romanticism. While similar to the fantasy and emotional side of American Romanticism it adds a dark twist to both emotion and nature, while still sticking true to the roots of a fantasy realm merging with reality. This genre is referred to as Gothic Romanticism, this story exemplifies and this with vivid descriptions of morbid, gloomy events, entangled with deep emotional and psychological torment.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown]
996 words (2.8 pages)
- Self-Damnation in Oedipus Rex (the King) Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex (the King) is a tragic tale of fate and hubris. At first glance, it seems that the terrible fates of the main characters are merely the doings of mischievous or cruel gods. That Laios should die at the hands of his unknowing son, that Jocaste should later marry that son to commit the crime of incest, and that Oedipus, the son, should be the actor in both crimes all seem to be deeds scripted unfairly by the gods for their own pleasure.... [tags: Oedipus Rex Essays]
1311 words (3.7 pages)