13 September 2011
“Young Goodman Brown” Analysis
One of the factors that shaped the New World was religion; it was a pillar in the fledgling society and a reason for migration for so many Europeans. Puritanism was a major belief system that held strongly throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Nathaniel Hawthorne, a nineteenth century American novelist and short story writer, composed the story of “Young Goodman Brown” which takes place in Salem. All Puritans were to take a journey which was supposed to lead them to a conversion experience. This journey takes them through the spiritual heart. It is intended for self – examination; the elimination of the three vices: boredom, vice, and need; and loss of oneself to find God. Young Goodman Brown, the main character, is a newlywed Puritan who is pious and proud of his family’s devoutness in their faith. However, he is naïve to the world around him, innocent; he looks up to the elders, and holds them to a higher esteem than himself. Hawthorne is blatant in his allegory in order for readers to be able to understand it clearly. Through literal and allegorical meanings Hawthorne uses extensive symbolism and imagery to show the path and dangers in losing one’s faith. The forest is a main piece of this story. It is the area that hides what Young Goodman Brown is doing, but it also signifies the darkness of sin and distance from faith. The forest is very significant because it symbolizes the loss of morals and how confusion can seep into one’s soul. As Young Goodman Brown makes his way deeper into the forest, the more his attitude and love for Faith change. At first he is pushed by the old man to go on and unconsciously he Mickle 2
proclaims he has gone, “Too far, too far!” Hawthorne’s symbolism shows that Goodman Brown’s consciousness is affected even at this depth in the forest. He feels he has committed an act that was uncharacteristic for his family. He...