Analysis of Young Goodman Brown
"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathanial Hawthorne is a short story that is very interesting, as well as entertaining. This essay will first provide a brief summary of the story, followed by an analysis of the importance of symbolism. The nature of evil will then be discussed as it relates to the control of the mind of a once naive and innocent goodman Brown. The climax of the story will be analyzed and the evil within this passage will be discussed and related to the final downfall of goodman Brown.
As "Young Goodman Brown" begins, we are introduced to goodman Brown and his wife Faith as they bid farewell to one another on the streets of Salem village. It is sunset and goodman Brown is setting off on a journey to run a secret errand. We later find out that he is planning on meeting Satan and sacrificing his soul to pure evil. Throughout the story, goodman Brown is tormented by the idea of evil and he is doubtful of weather or not he should continue on his journey. He is finally persuaded, however, when he hears Faith turn herself over to Satan.
Toward the end of the story we find out that this whole excursion may have been a dream, but even so, goodman Brown was so impacted by it that he will never recover to live a peaceful, happy life. He will die a miserable death, with no hopeful verse carved upon his tomb, for as we are told in the final line of the story, `his dying hour was gloom'(pg.585).
Symbolism plays an important role in this story, as it does in many of Hawthornes stories. First of all, the fact that goodman Brown's wife is named Faithis extremely ironic since it appears that goodman Brown has none. Faith seems to represent the good that remains on earth. As goodman Brown states, `she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.'(pg.577) The fact that goodman Brown claims that she is an angel put here on this earth demonstrates the fact that he doesn't want to associate Faith with the evil he may see in mankind. He uses Faith throughout the story in ironic ways. For example, `Faith kept me back a while'(pg.577) can be taken to mean that goodman Brown is late meeting Satan because of his wife or because of his actual faith in the good in himself and mankind. This happens again when goodman Brown cries out, `Faith! My Faith is gone!'(pg.581). He could be referring to his wife's encounter with Satan or he could be indicating that he has lost his faith in God or in mankind.
A second symbol is Satan's staff. It is portrayed as being crooked and black like a serpent. A serpent is thought of as being an evil creature so it is appropriate that Satan be carrying such a staff. It is also symbolic that every living thing Satan touches withers up and dies. This demonstrates how this evil apparition can...