Life Goes On
An important similarity between the reasons for the harassed and unhappy states of the protagonists at the end of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” and James Joyce’s “Araby” is the mental and emotional consequence of each protagonist’s quest. In the two stories the main protagonists are very naïve, an unexplainable force drives him, from within, to pursue a mission during which he learns a harsh lesson about life. Unfortunately, his wisdom is limited to his knowledge and personal experiences. Innocence and faith, plays a part in each character’s actions throughout, alone inside his own mind, struggling with his conscious thoughts and life’s reality. In the end, the protagonists’ quest alters his reality and leaves him despondent. “Young Goodman Brown” (YGB) is about a man who strays from Faith, his wife, who is symbolically named representing his faith, to go to the woods where he meets a man. The man in the woods represents evil and could be considered the devil. The evil man expresses that there is a bit of evil in all of us. YGB becomes confused about his faith and as he continues his quest becomes angry. When all is said and done YGB is unsure if it was a dream or reality, “Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?”(Hawthorne). His “journey in the woods” leaves him judgmental, paranoid, and gloomy, as if everything he knows to be true is not so; his reality is never the same because his set of ideas has changed. Throughout “Young Goodman Brown” he refers to his Faith/faith which could be interpreted as his wife Faith or his faith; nevertheless, he is uncommitted and strays. It is unknown where YGB is going but he is committed to his decision to proceed on his journey. Faith begs him not to go, saying "Dearest heart…prithee put off your journey” (Hawthorne). She is apprehensive, she mentions a dream she had but he does not obey. Young Goodman Brown insists, “My journey… must needs be done” (Hawthorne). He thinks his journey must be completed for all to be well in his world, “With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose” (Hawthorne). Committed to her husband Faith gives him her blessing. She says farewell with pink ribbons in her hair, the ribbons represent her innocence, or at least her innocence as perceived by him. YGB tells her to say her prayers “and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee"(Hawthorne). If he only knew the lasting affect his journey would have on him he would go to bed with his Faith/faith and say his prayers too. Once partnered up with the man in the woods, YGB, a man of faith, has reservations about being present in a situation that seems to contradict his faith. He believes he comes from “a race of honest men and good Christians” (Hawthorne). The man with the staff tells Young Goodman Brown, “I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans” (Hawthorne). Young Goodman Brown is naïve, he has a hard time grasping the fact that good and evil exists, hand in hand in people. The man informs YGB that people he respects and thinks as good Christian people have traveled the dreary road he is headed down. He infers sin doesn’t make you the devil it happens to the best of people. He says look “wickedness or not”, it is what it is, and “I have a very general acquaintance here” (Hawthorne), he lets Young Goodman Brown know. Young Goodman Brown is dumbfounded and cries, "Can this be so?"(Hawthorne); he doesn’t know how he can continue on this journey and then face the minister and look him in the eye. The man laughs at Young Goodman Brown and tells him go on but, “don't kill me with laughing” (Hawthorne). The evil man is making a mockery of YGB’s innocence, giving him reason to doubt everything he was taught. Young Goodman Brown is confused. And, soon, Young Goodman Brown becomes angry. He reflects...
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