Literary Analysis of Young Goodman Brown

808 WordsNov 14, 20054 Pages
Hawthorne's ambiguous ending in "Young Goodman Brown" leaves the reader asking one question. "Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch hunting?" Most readers of this allegory try to answer this question, believing that Goodman Brown did in fact take the "dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest." Hawthorne himself has avoided answering the question, and has instead left it up for the reader to decide Goodman Brown's fate. The reader can never be certain about what actually happened in the forest; the reader can, however, be certain, not only of the nature and stages of Goodman Brown's despair, but also of its probable cause. This can be seen through Faith, Brown's…show more content…
But his weak mind begins to suspect that all men are evil, even if they are respected members of the community, as were his father and grandfather, according to the story. Doubts about his ancestors spread, until Goody Cloyse, Deacon Gookin, the parson, and finally Faith herself fall victims to his corrupt state of mind. The symbolic representation of such increasing doubts is given in the sequence with the devil. The devil is Brown; Faith the exact counterpart, representing Brown's heavenly side. The devil is Brown's darker side, which believes that evil is the nature of man. In the forest, the dark side of Brown overpowers the good side. What actually happened in the forest must remain, as Hawthorne chose to put it, a question. What happens once Goodman Brown emerges from the forest is clear enough; Goodman Brown lived and died an unhappy, despairing
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