The story of "Young Goodman Brown," by Nathan Hawthorne, tells of the unforeseen sin that lurks in all men and women. The sin is a thought that plagues and questions everyone's belief in their fellow man and or God. Nathan Hawthorne, through Goodman Brown's Character, shows us the sin of having our trust, hopes, and beliefs in another smothered. Goodman Brown foolhardily takes swift on a quest through the neighboring dark forest in the attempt to come to reason with his Faith. Along the way, His Faith is challenged by the devil's sinful grip over his wife and his community. In the end, Goodman Brown is unable to come to terms with the inherent evil that lies within everyone. The knowledge torments his thoughts and he forever holds them in contempt. Goodman's Faith is the central conflict of the story and the word, image, and meaning play a major role in his discovery of evil in himself, his wife, and his community.
Goodman, whose name alludes to his good heartedness, has recently married to his wife Faith. Goodman's wife represents his devoutness to God and Christian ways, but also his trust in people. Not being married for more than three months, he leaves his wife and religious orientation behind to the temptation of Sin and discovery. As Goodman leaves his manor and wife to a lonesome windy night, he contemplates his decision to venture into sinister unfamiliar territory. He curses his decision, by saying "what a wretch am I to leave [Faith] on such an errand (1)!" The errand is simple; uncover the face of sin and whose hearts it holds. Goodman is naÃ¯ve to think his Faith and love, which have had little time to solidify, are strong enough to face the temptation of sin and betrayal. However, even knowing the risk, he sternly strides into the darkness of the night.
In order for Goodman to carry out his evil purpose, he justifies Faith, his wife and religious ways, as an unwavering truth. He says to himself, "[Faith]'s a blessed angel on earth, and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven (2)." The promise of returning to his Faith's is not enough to salvage his spirits after the devil has his way. "Faith kept me back a while (2)," Goodman says as he approaches the devil along the dreary dark roadside. Even up to the moment he begins his journey into the forsaken, Goodman's uncertainty if he should set aside his beliefs to gain an understanding of evil whispers in his mind. Upon entering the forest and discovering that his community members have a date with the devil, he questions his Faith in others and himself. At first, Goodman stands firm in righteousness and Faith, he says, "with heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil (7)." However, his conviction is short lived when the sounds of the forest mock his beliefs.
The forest strips Goodman of his belief in the sacred that which is just and pure, especially when he finds his dear Faith's pink ribbon. "My Faith is gone, (8)" he remarks after finding the ribbon. The pink cloth symbolizes the purity in people. Goodman succumbs to his doubts of goodness in man and surrenders to the devils hold. He is unable to find salvation in the congregation of his fellow community members. The devil speaks of the evil nature of mankind and how one must embrace the evil to find communion with the human race. By this point, Goodman is unable to reclaim any goodness in his heart and cries to heavens to help his Faith resist the wickedness of the knowledge he learns. However, the heavens do not respond and Goodman is left to suffer in agony.
Hawthorne uses his narrative to highlight the moral and religious implications of redemption, in a religious context but, also a practical one. Young Goodman Brown discovers the sinful nature and dishonesty that lies within his wife and community members. Not knowing if the night he journeyed into the forest was a dream or reality, Goodman's Faith is forever distorted and lost. The author describes Goodman's painful gloom with the concluding line of the story; "When he had lived long, and was borne to his grave a hoary corpse, followed by Faithâ€¦ (13)" Instead of conquering the chaotic forest of sin and deceit, strengthening his faith in himself and others, he emerges a ruined faithless man. He is unable to sympathize with his community of sinners and spends the rest of his life cynical.