March 6, 2007
Carnival of Mirrors: The Many Layers of Young Goodman Brown
"Young Goodman Brown" is an allegorical story of the confrontation with evil and test of faith. Various readings of the story shine light on the complexity of themes and lessons that may be learned from the tale, further enriching its complexity. A psychoanalytical reading reveals how Goodman Brown's various encounters represent various aspects of his psyche and the inevitability of that confrontation. This is further enhanced by the sociological implications of his encounter with the townspeople at the black mass. Furthermore, Goodman Brown's mirroring in the devil illustrates the descent into evil and the point at which no man can ever return. A postcolonial essay reveals how the story draws from real life historical events that resulted from the Puritan movement, allowing the reader to explore Hawthorne's possible ambivalence towards his ancestors. Moreover, each of these readings allow for a richer, more vivid reading of the tale.
Many of the mysterious and most compelling aspects of "Young Goodman Brown" cannot be explored without understanding the psychological complexity of the story. Rita K. Gollins affirms the psychoanalytical aspect of the tale when she states, "Young Goodman Brown' is the story of a literal journey into the forest, yet Hawthorne has so contrived the journey that it must also be read as a journey into the self, into the interior world of dreams." Goodman's tenuous state of faith is represented by Goodman Brown's wife, who urges him not to leave for the night for reasons that are cryptic and mysterious. Like "a blessed angel on earth,"she whispers in her husband's ear her fears about his departure, symbolizing the misgivings of his inner consciousness. Goodman hesitates about his decision as he ponders whether or not he should have left her, but decides to push on, concluding, "after this one night I'll cling to her... [continues]
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