The Hero’s Journey of Young Goodman Brown
Young Goodman Brown undergoes the hero’s journey in the story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The hero’s journey is a common guideline of events that many writers use in stories to show the physical, mental, and/or emotional transformation the main character or protagonist undergoes throughout the story. It starts with a call to adventure and a supernatural aid. It is then followed by a road of trials and a symbolic death. In the end, the character has a moment of epiphany or realization and then a return. Hawthorne uses all of these in order to show the loss of innocence in Young Goodman Brown as he experiences the hero’s journey.
Young Goodman Brown is about a young, newly wedded man who leaves his wife, Faith, and to go on a journey into the forest one night. Young Goodman Brown has an innocent and maybe even naïve soul and was looked upon by townspeople as a “silly fellow” (Hawthorne 83). He is accompanied by a mysterious, older man who is later on revealed to be the devil. As they are walking, Young Goodman Brown tries to turn back several times and at one point succeeds in getting rid of the devil. However, when he sees that even his wife has surrendered to the same evil path that he was on, he stops resisting and continues into the forest. He ends up at a witches’ sabbath where he sees familiar faces of people whom he previously looked up to for spiritual guidance; he also finds Faith there and becomes devastated. In the end, he cries out to resist the devil and then wakes up to find himself alone in the forest.
The call to adventure is when Young Goodman Brown decides to go out that night into the forest. It is not clear to what exactly the motivation for it is except for that it is for an “evil purpose” (81). It could be assumed though that Young Goodman Brown had doubts in his faith in God and was curious about this mysterious event that was taking place that night. It also seemed like Young Goodman Brown had been thinking about it for awhile and had set his mind to this night because it seemed like he had an appointment with the other traveler when he was told that he was fifteen minutes late.
The other traveler is the supernatural aid component of the hero’s journey. He is described to be about fifty years old and resembling to Young Goodman Brown. The traveler walks and guides Young Goodman Brown into the forest constantly urges him to continue walking. Later, it is revealed that the traveler is the devil disguised as the Young Goodman Brown’s grandfather in order to gain Young Goodman Brown’s trust. He carries around a snake-like staff which also alludes to the snake, which was the devil in disguise, that persuades Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The devil’s super naturalness is also shown when he breaks off a branch of a tree to make a new walking stick and the moment his fingers touched the twigs, they strangely “withered and dried up as with a week’s sunshine” (84). This walking stick becomes a symbol of succumbing to evil as it is offered insistingly to Young Goodman Brown by the devil several times in the story.
Young Goodman Brown has three trials leading up to the climatic symbolic death. His trials have to do with the constant internal struggle between wanting to go further into the forest and wanting to go back home. Young Goodman Brown’s first test occurs in the beginning of his journey into the forest. The devil offers Young Goodman Brown his walking stick because he is slowing his pace down. Young Goodman Brown refuses the staff and does not wish to continue further in and tries to resist the devils urges for him to continue. Young Goodman Brown tells the devil that his father never went into the woods, and neither had his grandfather, and he did not want to be the first of his family to do so. However, the devil tells Young Goodman Brown that they actually have taken that path together many times before and that...
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