Good and Evil in Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne
In “Young Goodman Brown,” there is a fight between good and evil with one main character being torn between the two sides and every other character seemingly on one side or the other through the reader’s view, although many characters do deceive Goodman Brown about whether they are good or evil. This fight between the two sides and the deception that causes confusion for Goodman Brown is the source of tension throughout the entire story. In “Young Goodman Brown,” every character’s traits and dialogue, the setting, and even colors mentioned have double meanings and are symbolic to the main binary oppositions of either good or evil.
In the beginning of the story, Young Goodman Brown “crosses the threshold” of his home, leaving his Faith, whom he calls his “angel on earth” and traveling on a journey into the dark night (page 2186). Right away the reader sees that Faith is symbolic of goodness, although she does wear pink ribbons, a mixture of white and red that symbolizes purity and sexuality, but these are worn in the confines of her marriage, causing the reader to view the pink as being sacred. The journey Goodman Brown is taking is opposite of everything that Faith stands for and immediately appears to be ominous when good Faith begs him to stay with “trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight” (2187). Goodman Brown knows that he is leaving for an “evil purpose,” but feels justified in doing so because “after this one night [he’ll] cling to [Faith’s] skirts and follow her to Heaven,” as if his association with Faith, who represents goodness, will save him and allow him to enter into Heaven even if he enters into the side of evil, or darkness in this story (2187).
As Goodman Brown walks down a “dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest” he and everything around him becomes “as lonely as could be” and “there is this peculiarity in such a solitude” as he walks “with lonely footsteps” not knowing what may be lurking around every tree (2187). This loneliness comes only after he is far away from his Faith and God and traveling deeper into the darkness of the forest, only “assisted by the [evil], uncertain [false] light” (2187). Young Goodman Brown overcomes his loneliness when he meets an older traveler who tells him that even Brown’s own family has come to the woods and shows him other...