Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”, a story of innoncence betrayed, leaves the reader wondering if Brown made any kind of jounrney at all. Was Brown tired when he left his home and Faith, so much so that maybe he fell asleep in the forest at the begining of his journey? Hawthorne’s use of allegory and symbolism abound in this tale of a young man’s shattered “faith”. THe most sacred role models Brown had ever had were challenged in his incredible journey.
Being reared in the Puritain faith Brown had been programmed to shun evil and embrace goodness. As he embarked on his journey his Faith begged him to stay with her and do not leave her that evening, leaving Brown that night with the parting words, “I hope all is well when you return.” In this era and the Puritain faith wickedness belonged to the devil. Faith’s parting words sowed a doubt in his mind abouth her fidelity, therefore, setting the stage for Brown’s walk with the devel.
As he walked through the forest with the dard stranger, who bore a striking resenbelense to his father, Brown had to confront that maybeall in his world was not as it appeared to be.
Every person that he had a high regard for was challenged on this walk. Evil too the shape of his father and goodness his own mother reaching for him. Even if a dream, Brown could not bring himself to soil his mothers image. He had no suchproblem with Goody Cloyse who had been a mentor since he was a young child. As his journey continued in the darkest night of the year he had to deal with the fact that maybe his “faith” had not been compromised.
Subconciously, Goodman Brown was uneasy about faith. She did not want to be left alone by he husband of only three monthes, and was upset that he could still embark on this journey after she begged him to stay. Tghe reasons for his unease could have been actions committed by Brown himself. Why did brown go out on this dark on this dark night? Was his walk with the devil symbolic of a deed he embarked on that evening? Has marriage freed him from his parent’s upbringing ans was he out for a night of carousing and hell raising?
Many twists and turns were prevalent in this short journey leaving the reader wondering just what Goodman Brown was up to that evening. Whatever happened in the forest that night served it’s evil purpose, shattering Brown’s faith and leaving his lrfe irrevocably changed.
Evil was symbolized in the journey in many forms, thick tree trunks, the devil’s staff taking on the form of a serpent, witches, shadows and darkness were Brown’s companions that evening. Did Brown return home and find Gaith in a situation so compromising that his journey was imaginary, or were his own deeds that evening so evil they took another form in his mind?
THe mane Goodman was symbolic itself (a good man) to suggest to the reader a sense of goodness. Whatever eveil Brown witnedded on that dark night was a challenge to everything he held dear, yet even in his subconcious state he could not bring himself to see evil in his mother. Even as his father begged him to embrace his mother beckoned him back. His final agony was his “Faith”. The high regard for all that was pure and good were centered in his Faith, when Brown asked her to look hevenward and found himself back in the forest alone without knoeing whether she obeyed him or not, gave him the final blow. Brown’s life was changed in that instant and for the rest of his life, his faith was shattered in all mankind.
Whatever happened on this journey, whether imaginary or real was so devestating for Young Goodman Brown that he looked for the rest of his life with scorn for fellow man, never allowing himself to trust or have faith again.
Hawthorne’s use of good vs. evil betrays the sinful nature of man, allowing that evil and sin prevail over goodness. Was this just a subconscious excuse for Young Brown to be preyed upon by his own sinful nature? The depths of Young Goodman Brown’s faith and goodness were shattered from one evening of embracing evil. The end result was an ill-tempted man who grew old never trusting his fellow man again, being at odds with all he chanced to meet. Never again could he look upon his “Faith” in the same light.