Analysis Of The Short Story "Good Man Brown" By Nathaniel Hawthorne

975 words - 4 pages

Ultimately in life each person goes through the process of the demise of innocence, because evil is omnipresent. Everyone has a shadow side to himself. Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown" displays a protagonist's archetypal journey to the discovery of evil in mankind. Hawthorne's use of the threshold motif depicts the archetypal struggle between good and evil and the inevitable loss of innocence. Set in the Puritan age, Goodman Brown embarks on a voyage into the dark forest where he uncovers the evil in everyday society. Prophetically, Goodman Brown begins his trip at sunset in the streets of Salem, Massachusetts. Hawthorne's didactic narrative exemplifies loss of innocence through the use of archetypal motifs, symbols, and imagery.The commencement of Goodman Brown's archetypal quest demonstrates the beginning of a journey that may lead to jeopardy and Goodman Brown's loss of innocence. This quote from the beginning of the narrative is an example of Hawthorne's threshold motif, "Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset into the street at Salem Village; but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife" (Hawthorne 1). Goodman Brown is about to start a journey from his house, which represents safety, into the streets of Salem, which symbolize danger; also, it shows that Brown's faith is on the line because he steps into danger then back to safety to kiss his wife, "Faith," and then steps back to danger. His wife's name is Faith; so, she represents Brown's faith, and she wears pink ribbons, which represent innocence. Since Goodman Brown is leaving his wife, it shows that he is going to lose his innocence sometime during his archetypal journey. Another threshold motif is when Goodman Brown enters the forest, which will ultimately lead to loss of innocence.While in the forest Brown faces metaphorical monsters that challenge his principles and beliefs. The main figure that Goodman Brown confronts is the devil; further, the devil is characterized as an older man with mystical powers. Brown acquiesces to follow this man; undoubtedly, Brown had little suspicion of the plan than this person had contrived a plan to lure some prominent townspeople to his meeting, including Deacon Gookin, and Goody Cloyse. Goodman Brown believes his ancestors would have never been in the forest but the devil figure shows the shadow side of his ancestors that Brown had never seen. The traveler allows Goodman Brown to see that eventually in life one loses one's innocence, not everyone is perfect. For example, the devil exclaimed, "I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem..." (Hawthorne 3). Within the shadows of the forest Goodman Brown is astonished to see his old catechism teacher who is noticeably a part of the devil's congregation, Brown also sees his minister and another man who are on...

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