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The story of “Young Goodman Brown” is one of the best short stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne. This story deals with a lot of themes like good versus evil, loss of purity, and tampering with reality. The interior efforts that Brown goes from beginning to end lead him to an emotional roller coaster. Following Goodman’s voyage into the woods he will come out as a different person than he was before entering.
The middle topic of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” is the disagreement between union with the devil and remaining guiltless. The journey of Mr. Young Goodman Brown shows to be a very hard personal journey for him. Young Goodman Brown travels throughout the forest to follow an internal desire to work with the devil, mean while thinking of what he would miss behind his wife Faith. This internal conflict eventually destroys Young Goodman Brown and creates a new, confused, and harsh man.
A greater part of the story is spent on Brown’s result of whether to go off to the dark side and group with the devil or to go back to the calm and naivety of the town. Brown weeps for the loss of his Faith, a topic that permeates the story. Brown’s unwillingness to take the Devil’s snake staff shows his doubts about becoming one of the Devil’s chosen ones.
Young Goodman Brown’s conflicts with himself between good and evil is stronger than he realize it will be. There would be no “Young Goodman Brown” if not for the most important character’s individual effort to choose what he will do. At the end of this story it can never be known if good or evil win the internal battle inside Young Goodman Brown, other than Hawthorne who created Goodman simply to understand that Brown was marked for survival. Later he returns to Salem from the forest at night, Goodman Brown becomes depressed. Goodman Brown no longer has any confidence in his townspeople, seeing that they have all danced with the devil at one time or another. Young Goodman Brown lost his fine quality and lost his devotion. His relationship with his wife, and the message on his gravestone after his return to Salem every one shows that the disagreement had a deep effect on his life. These disagreements are the theme of the story and reflect on the society of the time. A huge revolution took place in Young Goodman Brown, and it changed his personal passion eternally.
Through belief, one tends to ignore positive details such as the evil that was there within Goodman Brown’s neighborhood. On the other hand, while his faith has been broken down by the evil in the community that Goodman Brown didn’t observe previous to now reveals it because he no longer has faith. When Young Goodman Brown went into the forest, he left his inhibitions and awareness of what other people think of him behind in the village. Therefore, allowing him to be able to notice the things his inexperience and faith blind him. Goodman Brown’s mission took a curved on the forest was a departure from Faith, not only faith itself. At what time Goodman Brown meets the devil, he apologize for being late. Goodman Brown’s faith tries to keep him from the wickedness he will see, but exactly his wife Faith. What he sees are Faith’s pink ribbons from her curls. Goodman Brown hears loud screams and maybe her voice as well. He screams in hopelessness, “My Faith is gone! There is no good on earth; sin is but a name” (396). At this point in the story, Goodman Brown gives up, begins to realize the realities in life, and loses his faith in humanity.
Goodman Brown never recovers from the scene and knowledge of that dark night. He continues to live with his loss of faith in his wife, himself and those things he saw in the forest. It is Goodman Brown’s aptitude toward recognizing things from a true sense of reality, his awareness of the separation of what is actually going on around him, and the way in which everyone portrays their lives as being what drives Goodman Brown to be an unhappy man for the rest of his life. In its place of making the effort of understanding and love to join him with others, Goodman Brown turns and pushes himself away from them eternally having lost his sense of aptitude for empathy, he cannot exist without faith. Goodman Brown’s only way of living, by faith alone, which was trained to him since his Puritan teachings, has not prepared him for the sin in the world. Being unable to deal with this new understanding of sin turns Young Goodman Brown into a strict, judging, suspicious, and a dark man who never recovers his faith.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Literature Approaches to Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Robert DiYanni. 2nd ed. New York University, 2008. 391-399.
Plot Summary By Michael J. Cummings. Young Goodman Brown
By Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) A Study Guide © 2003 Revised in 2008 http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Brown.html
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