A Walk With The Unknown Essay

2061 words - 8 pages

The development of literature in America began to spark the creation of stories related to events that were happening in the time period. One of the more popular elements of history is the Salem Witch Trials, in which the people of Salem were accused of practicing Black Magic or worshipping Satan. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” finds Goodman Brown leaving his wife, Faith, to venture at night to tend to business matters. Along his journey, Goodman Brown finds that he is not alone in his travels when he encounters an old man. Hawthorne uses the characters and settings to define the proverbial journey of the darker side of faith and humankind’s involvement, much of which was seen throughout the changing eras.
Hawthorne uses the character of Goodman Brown as the representation of the human’s struggle with faith. After his course with the Old Man, Brown is left to quarrel with his findings in the woods alone. He is wrought between ending his journey or continuing on, after finding that many of those in which he trusted with his faith had been meddling elsewhere. Before the Old Man leaves, Brown admits that he can no longer continue, “another step…on this errand. What if a wretched old woman do choose to go to the devil, when I thought she was going to Heaven! Is that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith, and go after her?” (Hawthorne 609). Brown is questioning why he should do as Goody Cloyse did before him and choose the dark side and leave his Faith behind. Although Brown is stating that he is uncertain of his choice in what the devil is asking him, the question of it leads to the idea that Brown had seriously considered following the Old Man. As Brown represents humankind, it is humankind then questioning the path of choice, whether to return to Faith or to follow the untested path. Although Brown is seen with a dilemma that is certainly related to a mental conflict, he “represents the human heart’s struggle between the official and unofficial voices” (Jamil 144). Brown is the emotional inner conflict between the human’s choice of what is right and what is wrong. For Brown, the conflict is to return to his Faith or to follow the Old Man into the unknown. To the human, it is the difference between the beliefs that are said to be right and just versus the allure of the forbidden unknown or what is said to be wrong. While Brown represents the human, his Faith represents the assurance of trust and belief.
Goodman Brown’s wife, Faith, is the personification of religion, or faith, itself. At the beginning of the story, Goodman Brown is seen leaving his young wife for a journey into the woods. Before Brown leaves, he kisses his wife goodbye and the audience learns that, “Faith, as she was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown” (Hawthorne 605). The name Faith means “trust” and “belief” (Zhu 58), which is Hawthorne clearly...

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