Character Growth of Young Goodman Brown as Displayed Through the Setting in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Eponymous Story

Topics: Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Allegory Pages: 4 (1391 words) Published: April 30, 2005
Nathanial Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown" portrays the growth of Young Goodman Brown through vivid symbolic setting. "Young Goodman Brown" is an allegory in which the setting is very important to the theme of the story. Throughout the narration, detailed setting and emblematic characters surround Goodman Brown. Goodman Brown is an Everyman character, which could be any one of us, struggling with his Puritan heritage, more specifically his spiritual faith. The setting is first introduced during a conversation between Goodman and his wife "Faith" which is symbolic of his struggle with his spiritual faith throughout the story. Standing in the doorway of his own home he turns to confront his wife, who encourages him to stay at home with her, the first expression in the story of his internal conflict with his "faith". Walking away from his wife, he begins to question himself in several ways. Why is he leaving? What is he longing for? Where exactly is he going? ""Poor little Faith!" Thought he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand!"" (391) Without knowing the exact answer to any of the questions he enters the woods, dark and dreary, which Hawthorne uses to express the sense of evil. To understand the significance of the setting you have to understand the background of the Puritan culture which Hawthorne doesn't state but expects the reader to know. Puritans live their lives for God. They believe everyone and everything is evil and one must live his life so to not unleash this inborn sin. Throughout the story, Goodman struggles with his own image of faith. Just as any young adult may step back and question their initial upbringing, he too, questions his forefathers. He doesn't want to become who they were, the common feeling among younger generations. Brown could be any one of us who as we mature begin to discover flaws in our families and acquaintances we knew not existed. Continuing down his path in the woods he runs...
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