Innocence lost through Puritanism?
To truly comprehend the themes in "Young Goodman Brown" you must first understand the influences on Nathaniel Hawthorne's writing. According to the website Hawthorneinsalem.org, Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, son of also a Nathaniel Hawthorne, was actually a descendant of John Hathorne, one of the judges who oversaw the Salem Witch Trials. Because of Hawthorne's Puritan upbringing, much of writings are moral allegories set in colonial New England. Hawthorne returns again to Salem in "Young Goodman Brown" and deals with the theme of the loss of innocence. This theme works to argue the benefits and consequences of Goodman Brown's beliefs before and after his encounter with the devil as well as the beliefs of the Puritans as a whole.
A central theme of the loss of innocence can be found throughout the entire story. Even the first two characters introduced both seem as innocent as could be. Take the name Young Goodman Brown for example; innocence is associated with the word "young" as well as the word "good." Hawthorne uses these words to give Brown a naïve persona much like most young Puritans of his time. His newly wed wife, Faith, symbolizes the faith he clings to in his life. Hawthorne must have also used her name as a symbol for not only Brown but for all Puritans. Puritans cling to faith blindly hoping they are the chosen ones entitled an entrance to heaven. The color pink, of the ribbon she wears, is a color associated with childhood innocence and purity. Young, innocent, and pure are all things Brown considers his wife to be at the beginning of the story. After we are introduced to the first characters Brown sets off into the forest where he will eventually learn the truth of things and in doing so lose his innocence. Once on his journey into the forest Hawthorne writes, "He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep...
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