Young Goodman Brown," written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is the story of a young Christian mans struggle between good versus evil, and the loss of his innocence. All of us harbor a propensity for evil regardless of the mask that we put on for society.
In the story of Young Goodman Brown, as a reader we see many circumstances where Hawthorne uses irony in straightforward situations. I have learned from reading several of the author’s works that it is up to the reader to decide the meaning behind his stories. In this paper, I will be discussing the significance of the title, Young Goodman Brown and how I believe there is more to the story than what Hawthorne writes. Young Goodman Browns journey within the forest revealed truths not only within him, but within human nature and society. On page, 1103 Goodman Brown states “there may be a devilish Indian behind every tree.”
The main focus of the story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is the triumph of evil over good. A supposedly good man is tempted by evil and allows himself to be converted into a man of evil. This is much like the situation that arises in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, where two people are tempted to sin and give in thus submitting themselves to the power of the devil. In this novel, the area where the devil resides is strictly parallel to that in “Young Goodman Brown”.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown illustrates vividly how society and culture can very much influence a person's sense of identity and belonging, or in the case of Young Goodman Brown the lack thereof. Being a Puritan man in a society that scorned the ways of witches and the devil, Young Goodman Brown grew up with a very pious outlook on life. Yet when it occurs to him to look at life a little bit differently, Young Goodman Brown receives more than he has bargained for. The journey he embarks on sheds a whole new light on his society that not only creates a struggle between himself and his fellow men but also one within himself.
Mary Rowlandson (1636-1711) a puritan women, held as a prisoner by the Native Americans and forced to travel, “some 150 miles, from Lancaster to Menamaset then north to Northfield and across the Connecticut river.”(10) was not a writer however had her book, A Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson published. The book was released for the, “public at the earnest desire of some friends, and for the benefit of the afflicted”(5-6) and Young Goodman Brown, a fictional character created by Nathaniel Hawthorne, was written because a few male puritans wanted to publish a story to open up societies eyes and live in a more patriarchal society. Regardless of being a fictional character or a
Cheating, lying, stealing, murder, and adultery. In today's world, these are all things that are very common occurrences in society. These are all sins. Sins that almost everyone commits, but is willing to try and "cover them up" in some shape or form. For most human beings committing a sin brings guilt along with it. In Nathaniel Hawthorn's short stories "Young Goodman Brown" and "The Minister's Black Veil", both the main characters Mr. Hooper and Goodman Brown carry guilt because of a sin that they have committed.
Being a faithful person in today’s society can prove to be very difficult. There are a lot of temptations that can negatively impact your religious beliefs whether it be completely internal conflict or an external temptation. By internal conflict I mean just your own desires and inner demons trying to reveal themselves. External temptation comes from the people around you trying to convince you to do things that are not right by your beliefs. They can do this directly or indirectly but its up to you to combat these desires and refuse the temptations but that is far from easy. With the many different people that inhabit our world comes a lot of different religions and faiths. This can easily cause confusion and unintentional misdirection while coexisting with many different diversities. In the short story “Young Goodman Brown” Hawthorn uses symbolism to show the struggle of keeping faith in the face of sin with the character’s names, the path through the woods, and the final ritual.
The short story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathanial Hawthorne is a story in which the main character, Goodman Brown goes into the forest with an evil purpose and later finds out that it appears to be a meeting with the devil. In “The Man in the Black Suit” by Stephen King, the story is an autobiography about a young boy named Gary who has a frightening encounter with the devil while going on a fishing trip. In both short stories the main character are religious, but a significant difference between them is the way they handle their encounter with the devil. In “The Man in the Black Suit” family plays an important role in Gary’s live and is a big part of his motivation, and in “Young Goodman Brown” his family name, the way the people of Salem look at him and his wife Faith play the most important roles in his lives. Both short stories are very interesting to read and immediately grab your attention. In the short story “Young Goodman Brown”, the story takes place in Salem, which is known for it’s which trials. The short story “The Man in the Black Suit” takes place in the year 1914, in the town of Motton, not long before the First World War. In “young Goodman Brown”, the devil appears to be the figure of a normal old man, but in “The Man in the Black Suit” for example the reader can tell right away that this is not a human being. The main characters both have a different way of dealing with their encounter believes, and that may have been a difference in the outcome of the
deeper meanings than what the reader can see on the surface. The allegorical meaning is the writer’s real purpose in writing the narrative so that a lesson can be found when reading below the surface. “Young Goodman Brown”, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a perfect example of an allegorical story and is filled with many symbolic elements.
“Young Goodman Brown” and “Good Country People” are short stories written a little more than 100 years apart by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Flannery O’Connor respectively, and they both follow similar themes about religion and faith in a parallel sense. “Young Goodman Brown” follows the story of a devout Puritan losing his faith in God and humanity through a journey in the woods. While “Good Country People” follows the story of an amputee woman who is “tricked” by a fake Bible salesman into going out with him as she is seduced by his Christian principles. Both “Young Goodman Brown” and “Good Country People” depict a story of faith but in reciprocal directions. “Young Goodman Brown” and “Good Country People” argue how one’s faith and identity can so easily be weakened and undermined by outside influences and temptations using techniques and views typical of Romanticism and Southern Gothic respectively.
What do you think of when you hear someone ask “What is a gothic story”? Gothic Literature is the combination of fiction, horror, death, and romance. Within the two short stories Young Goodman Brown and The Man in the Black Suit, there is a character within in story, that is accused of being “the devil”. Although each story has “the devil” within them, their endings are two completely different ones. Young Goodman Brown is not similar to the man in the Black Suit. Young Goodman Brown ends up being all alone by the end of the story. While on the other hand, Gary is still surrounded by his loving family. The devil is said to be able to be do anything he wishes with just a single breath. “This was a special bee, a devil-bee, and it had come back to finish the other of Albion and Loretta’s two boy” (Gary).
woman in question is his Faith, and because of this, he easily loses his faith.
“Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a complex tale with many hidden meanings and themes. Hawthorne uses literary devices to propel his story further into speculation of the unknown world. In his essay, Fogle uses examples of irony and symbols of opposites to convey the mystery behind Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” Without both ambiguity and clarity, the story would not portray an atmosphere of doubt which is at the core of Hawthorne’s tale.
Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes symbolism throughout his short story Young Goodman Brown to impact and clarify the theme of good people sometimes doing bad things. Hawthorne uses a variety of light and dark imagery, names, and people to illustrate irony and different translations. Young Goodman Brown is a story about a man who comes to terms with the reality that people are imperfect and flawed and then dies a bitter death from the enlightenment of his journey through the woods. Images of darkness, symbolic representations of names and people and the journey through the woods all attribute to Hawthorne's theme of good people sometimes doing bad things.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, Young Goodman Brown, Brown goes on a journey through the forest that drastically changes him. While we never know the real reason why Brown went to the forest, the experience in the forest caused him to become a bitter, sad, and lonely man who couldn't look at life the same after that night. There were many events that occurred in the forest that caused this change in him.