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The story of "Young Goodman Brown" is a tale by Nathaniel Hawthorne that was written back in the late 19th century which is set in a country of side of New England. It's mainly a symbolic book as it portrays different aspects of the society or community around Nathaniel at the time through his own eyes. It's the book that put Nathaniel on the limelight as a serious writer resulting in the recognition of his works. The tale brings out clearly his experience as a child while staying with his mother in a rural setting in the remote New England where he spent many years growing up and portrays how a theme or setting for a story can be strongly influenced by the experiences of he writer as a child. This is the book that resulted in the rise of Hawthorne tales and establishing him a literature might throughout the literal world of America. The tale portrays a young man 'Goodman Brown' who leaves his family and home and goes for a journey which has its encounters signifying the day to day encounters in life as we go about all we do. The story is set in area which is quite symbolic as Salem in Massachusetts has an underlying message as the place a history of witchcraft and maybe this is an impression of the world that is filled a lot of evil. The impression of the young puritan patriarch is an expression of the dislike for the colonizers of New England who infamously characterized that they came with their bible on one hand and the other hand a sword (Hawthorne 26).
The young Goodman Brown is an impression of any good person or common man in the society who lives up to and does as the society demands hence the name that reflects such a figure. The man is about to go for a journey and as he kisses his wife goodbye he has the impression as the innocent woman in his life a she gives the strong image and encourages her to pray as sign to give her hope and strength showing her mentality in between there hence the strengthening by prayers. The ribbon s on the wife portrays her feminine side and he is impressed by her nature. Her name Faith is a symbol to shows the belief she has in him and the rest of mankind. This indicates that he cares for her and believes she's very innocent. And it clearly indicates Hawthorns reflection an ordinary background through which he was brought up. The wife is also portrayed as good person as Goodman calls her "an angel and would go with her to heaven". Through this journey the young Goodman matures through the encounters that open the world to him as he encounters the journey which is employed as a sign of our lives in the community (Hale 17).
The journey taken by Goodman is an indicator as the dark and dreary path which also narrows strongly expresses the fear felt by the young man as he slowly goes deeper into the forest. The dark indicates the world and all its sinful things that exist. The forest is symbolic cause as he goes further is implies he's being pulled deeper into the whole darkness of sin which he's being exposed to. The scene is likened to the bible where Adam is walking in Eden. In the woods Brown suffers a conflict with himself as he fights the different from he already knows and the enlightenment being given. He encounters the stranger under the tree which again is likened to the bible where Adam meets the serpent representing Satan; this is indicated as the stranger who looks fifty years old in comparison to Goodman who was still a young man him and he challenges all he believes in(Bunge 13).
Hawthorne's uses a lot of symbolism in the tale for example sunset and night that reflects two opposing forces of evil and good and how the battle but evil seem to be winning. The older companion is well described in the tale and would easily be considered to look like his father due to t he resemblance. He's described to have a considerable of knowledge of the world; this showing that Goodman didn't know much about the world and would not be easily intimidated. But "But the only thing about him that could be fixed upon as remarkable was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent." This once again depicts some evil or sin as the impression given is evil of the older companion. In the woods Goodman is fighting with his own conscience as he is convinced to do or go further than his forefathers did. This signifies a man who doesn't want to step outside the expected limits set by the community both for hi and everyone else. He also recognizes the martyrs who first came to the lands and paid the ultimate sacrifice (27).
As the conversation develops further the stranger reveals to Goodman that all the people he assumed or knew to do no wrong are clearly the opposite and have done a lot of wrong. These shows that the society and community at large looks very innocent when we are young but as we grow older and more mature as is the case of Goodman other harsh realities about life emerge which we have to deal with as the young Goodman is exposed to a world that never existed prior to that moment as he believed his community were God fearing people who followed all the right principles. The next is the realization that all is not as it seems leading to a state of mental unrest as even cant distinguish the voices he hears from those of his villagers in Salem(Bunge 13).
Later Goodman's dream, his forefathers are condensed into one figure, that of the devil, the older figure of authority who, it turns out, are in league with the devil in his dream he confronts what seem like his forefathers who he perceives as devil worshippers and he's caught in a bad spot to chose whether to join them and go to hell or against them and become a rebel. He shows maturity by making his own decision to rather rebel and decides to pray for their sins through words of repentance" "I know not whether these ancestors of mine bethought themselves to repent, and ask pardon of heaven" His choice to rebel has significant implications for his emotional maturation. Although the independence he achieves through his rebellion allows him to establish his own identity
The use of laughter and screaming is a symbol of conflict like when Goodman hears the screams of his wife Faith in the forest he looks with despair as he finds her ribbon hanging on a tree but it's replaced with laughter indicating she's accepted the evil( Able 134).
The realization by the Goodman that all is not as it seemed left him with quite full of despair cause he was told evil was part of the race and the best thing to do was embrace it. And he goes back to his village Salem he even ignores the on rushing wife Faith as he notices even the minister going on as usual but the realization was too much and nothing seemed as it was much to bear. Through this tale, Hawthorne employs this tale to express his views and attitude to begin with patriarch that were and some of injustices done by some of his ancestors who were the original settlers on the area.
To conclude Goodman Brown is a classic example of a man who fights hard to embrace the good but in the due to fighting a loosing battle succumbs to the world and finally with a heavy heart has to embrace the reality that which includes evil and all its vices in the world (Levy 116).