Short Story Analysis: 'Young Goodman Brown' by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne Introduction Hawthorne's short story Young Goodman Brown is a tale of innocence lost. Set in New England during the Puritan era, the protagonist, Goodman Brown, goes for a walk in the woods one night and meets the devil who tells him. "Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome again, to the communion of your race". According to Levin this story is a condemnation of the hypocrisy of the puritan ethic. The Salem witch trials along with the abusive treatment of Native Americans stands in stark contrast to the Christian faith they professed. More importantly it is the story of innocence lost. Discussion The story begins with Brown leaving his wife Faith to set out on a night journey through the wilderness. He soon meets a fellow who "bears a considerable resemblance to him" and looked to be able to be at ease in the presence of kings or commoners. "But the only thing about him, that could be fixed upon as remarkable, was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a serpent." This man is the embodiment of evil, or the devil. Zhu points out that Hawthorne's use of the names Goodman and Faith immediately identify their roles in the story by suggesting associations. By joining the name Goodman with the adjective young Hawthorne is alluding to the innocence of the man and his lack of worldly experience. Faith
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