Young Goodman Brown: Author's Self-Expression and Depiction of Own Beliefs

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is known for interest in the puritan faith a how he incorporates that into his stories. “Young Goodman Brown” is a perfect example of this, for the characters Puritan values play a huge role to the stories meaning. The first time reading through this story, it is defiantly unclear what Nathaniel Hawthrone is trying to explain to us. After reading through it a couple of times it finally comes clear to me that there are a couple different major and minor themes discussed in “Young Goodman Brown.” “Young Goodman Brown” teaches us lessons about too high of expectations, leaving faith, and judging people to harshly.

Brown as the main character who lives amongst the puritan community. Puritans value things such as honesty, community, marriage, and god. Browns who deiced to abandon these values to walk with the devil already set him back. Mentally and physically Brown walks away from his faith. Physically, Brown walks away from his faith by leaving his wife, who's name ironically is Faith. Brown mentally leaves his faith the minute he makes this decision and believes his sin of the night will not leave an effect on his life. Saying goodbye to Faith- both literally and metaphorically- his wife says, “and may you find all well, when you come back”. This is foreshadowing the decision Brown had made.

Guilt and paranoia are key emotions that come up in this story. Brown fells a crushing guilt not only because he is abandoning his wife but also because he fears that Faith knows about the sinful purpose of his journey. He fears being discovered to be a sinner and he is certain that a Faith is saint-like, and so it doesn’t occur to him that his wife might be begging him to stay at home to keep from both going into the woods that night and sinning their sins. Even though Goodman Brown just lied to his wife and admits to himself that his journey is evil, he continues to think of himself as one of the elects, the people who think the Puritans believe are destined by god to go to heaven. He believes that his wife’s godliness will make him holy. Brown seems to think he can just dip his toe into the sin and then remove his toe from the sin without dealing with the harm that could have been done.

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Hawthorne creates a stark contrast between the seemingly perfect young newlyweds and their sinister setting, Salem at nightfall. Their names “Faith” and “Goodman” promise the characters devotion and morality, and Faiths ribbons seem to be very childlike and innocent. But the setting of the story is important. Salem it the Puritan town which is famous for its murderous and hypocritical “Witch Trials” suggesting that either a sin or problematic terror of sin lie beneath the beautiful exterior. Brown is extremely opinionated, believing he can leave his values and faith all at once and still be accepted into heaven. The Puritans believed that only God knew who would be accepted into heaven, and the pursuit of people may be rotten underneath. Brown had thought that his sin filled that night would have no effect on him going into heaven, because his wife would be going down there.

In Goodman Brown, Hawthorn tires to demonstrate that man's limitation comes from the inner fight with evil. Furthermore, Hawthornes adversary characters gives the fight with protagonist Brown deserts his ambivalent indecisiveness and at last sets himself determinedly on a path. Goodman Brown, as already stated, was an individual inundated by his self-conscious and was someone who thought himself to have committed serious sin by meeting the devil and taking part of a meeting of witches in his imaginings. This dream of the protagonist spoke of an epoch where people were torching with religious remorse and false notions.

Goodman Brown may supposedly be Hawthorne's own expressions of his own efforts with his confidence in humanity and his own self. The author was a guilt-ridden person and I believe that he had many instances when his faith was tested. Brown is Hawthorne to a lesser extent. Goodman Brown starts out as a good, happy decent man and he seems very content. All this change is when he decided against the advice his wife faith that he should go out on a journey into the woods to meet the devil. It is obvious that that the path in the woods he sustains was a symbol into the dark truth. As he continues walking the path in the woods he arrives at the peak of his journey when he arrives at the place where the witches where holding a meeting. Brown now believes to have lost his faith despite his lost effort to save his spouse. He never knew if he was successful in saving her. This is certainly the main aspect which led to his destruction.

The Puritans forest is marked as a place of fear and a place of possibility. It contained a threat from Indians and a world out of the control of the puritan's village, but it also was a place to escape from the pressures of the society and its people that where all watching each other for sin. Brown, who is walking into the woods expresses out of a sinful curiosity. The forest seems to be a place to hide a sin everywhere. The forest might also then seen as a place to reflect his own mind, which is full of his own confusions and terrors. The mysterious man hints at a supernatural power by saying that he was in Boston a few minutes before, and impossible feat. Hawthorne double meaning of Faiths name make the story into a parable.

The threshold of the house symbolizes the turning point in this story, the moment in which Goodman Brown can either choose to listen to Faith and stay at home as a good husband or go follow his curiosity and go off into the night alone. Faith’s fear of bad dreams suggests that there are a couple of different possibilities: that there may be something evil and mystic about Brown’s mysterious nighttime journey; she may simply see the fear in being lonely without her husband at; or that she may worry about what she might do without her husband around.

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