"Young Goodman Brown:"
A Character Analysis of the Female Characters
Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, "Young Goodman Brown," was written in 1835. It "is known for being one of literature's most gripping portrayals of seventeenth-century Puritan society" (Napierkowski). Hawthorne's use of symbols throughout the story illustrates the Puritan beliefs, and his female characters are wonderful examples of some of his symbolism and represent the nineteenth-century women's stereotypes.
The main female character is Young Goodman Brown's wife, Faith. This is not only her name which gives the reader a glimpse into her character, but it also represents Young Goodman Brown's religious faith. When he leaves Faith behind to attend this meeting in the woods, he is leaving behind his religious faith as well.
Faith Brown is an example of typical stereotyping of women in the 1800's literature. She is described as sweet, pretty, and angelic with pink ribbons on her cap. She is expected to do as her husband tells her. He looks to her for his moral guidance and uses her as his reason for being late and to turn back from his journey. After this one night Young Mr. Brown intends to follow his wife to heaven by clinging to her skirts.
It is Faith that Brown leaves behind, presumably for one night, in order to keep his appointment with the Devil. Explaining to the old man why he is late Brown says, "Faith kept me back a while." She represents the force of good in the world. Thus, when Brown perceives that she too has been corrupted, he shouts "My Faith is gone" and rushes madly toward the witches's gathering (Napierkowski).
Faith appears to be naïve and trusting. When Brown hears her on the path from his hiding place in the woods, she seems to be being coerced by the others she is traveling with. They encourage her to continue on. Faith is submissive and wants to please the others even though she has doubts and seems sorrowful. Then he hears a scream which presumably...
Cited: Bell, Megara. "The Fallen Woman in Fiction and Legislation." English 285 Class
Handout. 3 March 2006: 1.
"Young Goodman Brown: Introduction." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Marie Rose
Napierkowski. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1998. eNotes.com. January 2006. 17 April 2006. .
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