“Young Goodman Brown” is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an excellent piece that clearly illustrates Sigmund Freud theory of repression through Young Goodman Brown’s faith in his puritan religion. Brown in his unconscious mind is, however, challenged by the evils which surround him that he tries to repress and thus, a battle between good vs. evil surfaces.
Growing up as a dedicated puritan, Young Goodman Brown was raised under strict religious guidelines that he must obey wholly according to his religion. He married a lovely woman named Faith within his deeply religious community. Faith is Young Goodman Browns dear wife, but also serves as a symbol for his commitment to the puritan religion. In Freud theory of repression, Faith and his religion serves as his repression in Goodman Browns mind.
The story starts off with Young Goodman Brown heading out to the forest to run some errands. Faith tries to convince Goodman Brown not to go and stay here with her. With Faith’s gentle voice she whispers, “prithee put off your journey until sunrise and sleep in your own bed tonight.” That is just like Brown’s religious beliefs in his mind trying to stop himself from going into the forest. “Of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee.” said brown- indicating he must head into the forest tonight but without any specific reason. The forest is symbolic door to Goodman Browns unconscious mind where Faith act as the repression, tries to stop Goodman Brown from going further into his mind. He disregards the repression and went ahead and opened that door into his unconscious or id.
Inside his mind, he finds all these evil from his thoughts that he had repressed and locked away all these years cause of his strict religious beliefs. The evil is represented by a devil he met in his unconscious mind. The devil holds in his hands a staff that resembles a serpent is similar to the story of Adam and Eve where the snake leads them away from being the purest of man and in Young Goodman Brown where the devil with the serpent staff leads Brown deeper into the forest. All his thoughts that were considered wrong by his religion were repressed and forgotten. These thoughts which he thought were forgotten are actually locked deep into the “forest” part of his mind and the opening of that door will only take a matter of time before the mind can’t take anymore. Once the door creaks open from the pressure of the thoughts, the person becomes hysterical unless a method of mental solution provided in Freud theory is utilized. Proven by Sigmund Freud, hysteria is not at all physical and is indeed a mental condition.
Young Goodman Brown became hysterical after his visit into his “forest” or id. He cannot accept that even with his pure good heart, there was such evil in his unconscious. So with every thought that he was taught wrong by his religion, he simply just repressed it into his id or unconscious minds. And after he explored his id, Brown realize he wasn’t as pure as he hoped he would be. He returned bitter, stern, and distrustful towards his community. He became anti-social and ignored everything and everyone around him including his wife, Faith. The 3 solutions to cure hysteria are 1. “Person maybe convinced that it was wrong in rejecting their wish and accepts it wholly or in part 2. or the wish maybe directed to unobjectionable aim 3. or rejection of the wish may be recognized as a justifiable one”. If one of the three methods of solution in Freud’s theory was used, Young Goodman Brown would still be well.