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Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote this short story in 1835. Nathaniel was born in Salem, to a prominent family on July 4, 1804. His work is widely enriched with local history and the excesses of his rich family. Nathaniel’s father died when he was only four years though his family realized his talent in literary works and supported his education. Nathaniel was extremely interested in conventionality. The title Yong Goodman Brown relates to the story by using the main characters name, which is mentioned a number of times hence making it very suitable. Goodman can be taken to mean ordinary. On the other hand, ‘Young’ is evident in the short story when Goodman Brown states that Faith, his wife, and him married only three months ago.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’ revolves on the theme of evil verses good. Young Goodman believes in righteousness, which leads him to living and dying in pain, in addition to isolating himself from friends and the community. Hawthorne therefore uses symbolism in his story by causing the main character to revel sins within himself, his family and his community. The story commences with Goodman Brown parting with his wife, Faith for an overnight task. She pleads him to stay but he still leaves. Faith is a representation of hope in the story. She also symbolizes love between a man and woman. In essence, Goodman Brown is therefore leaving God and good when he leaves Faith behind. Goodman says that she is blessed angel (Young Goodman Brown, 391). His faith attempts to protect him from the vice he will witness, but literally, it is his wife Faith. At this spot in the short story, Goodman Brown begins to feel the reality in life and gives up faith in humanity (Young Goodman Brown, 396).
The journey by Young Goodman to the forest represents uncontrollable force to test temptation by leaving home, security and faith provisionally and temporarily. The forest on the other hand can be inferred as the wild religion that allows the devil to wander in the forest. Young Goodman then finds that most of the respectable persons in the community have discovered his temptation and have even given in to the devil. This torments him and as a result destroys his sensitivity of almost all in life. ‘Old woman that taught me my catechism’ (Young Goodman Brown, 394)
In Hawthorne’s time, a good man was widely characterized by proper ancestry, a way he uses to develop Young Goodman Brown when he meets with the devil. Goodman argues that he comes from a morally upright family. "My father never went into the woods on such an errand, or his father before him…..shall I be the first of the name Brown that ever took this path and kept (Young Goodman Brown, 392). The devil assures him that his family was his good friends. Hawthorne employs this idea of originating from a fine background and still making mistakes to condemn the way society puts much emphasis to background to determine ones worth in society. Hawthorne therefore mocks the ritual of Goodman Brown's family setting and his society's analysis of admiration by shaming his family’s history. Nevertheless, the devil tips to the sore genuineness of the past and the authenticity of the way in which people act today.
Goodman Brown continues to live without faith in himself, his community and even his wife that he also saw in the forest hence does not recover from experiences and scenes of the night of darkness. He then becomes miserable out of perceiving things from the actual realistic sense. Brown pushes himself away from the others forever instead of making efforts to unite with them. His lifestyle of living by faith alone therefore did not prepare him for the reality of sin in the world. Being powerless to deal with this new apprehension of sin turns Young Goodman Brown into a strict, judging, suspicious, dark man who by no means recovers his faith.