Losing Faith Young Goodman Brown
Throughout the short story "Young Goodman Brown," written by Nathaniel Hawthorne the main character is searching for Faith in what appears to be an increasingly corrupt world. Faith takes on a double meaning in this story, for Faith is used both as the name of Young Goodman Brown's pretty young wife and the spiritual devotion of Young Goodman Brown to the Puritan Faith. The dual usage of Faith in this short story, along with its theme of devil worship amongst Puritan society draws the reader in, and leaves the story imprinted on his brain for a long time to come.
As the story opens, Young Goodman Brown is about to enter the forest to partake upon an "evil purpose." He leaves behind his sweet, pretty, young wife of three months, who wears pretty pink ribbons in her hair, urging her to "Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee" (p. 102). Young Goodman Brown is hesitant about leaving his Faith behind to go on such an errand, to venture into the forest where "the devil himself could be at my very elbow!" (p. 103).
Once in the forest, Young Goodman Brown is met with "the figure of a man, in grave and decent attire, seated at the foot of an old tree" (p. 103). When questioned as to why he has dallied in meeting this figure, Young Goodman Brown replies "Faith kept me back awhile" (p. 103). In the literal sense, Young Goodman Brown's pretty young wife delayed him from his meeting with the dark figure by begging him to "put off his journey until sunrise and sleep in his own bed to-night" (p. 103). In a symbolic sense, Young Goodman Brown's devotion to all that is just in the world has made him hesitant to enter the corrupt reality of the forest.
When traveling down the dark path, with he who carries a staff resembling a great black snake, Young Goodman Brown is told he is "but a little way in the forest yet" (p. 103). To this Young Goodman Brown replies it is "too far," and that "his father never went on such an errand" (p. 103). In reality, Young Goodman Brown's father has walked the very same path, beside the man carrying the serpent. In fact, all of the highly moral people of the town walk in the forest at night. Among the devil worshippers are "faces that would be seen the next day at the council board of the province, and others which, Sabbath after Sabbath, looked devoutly heavenward" (p. 109). Deacon Gookin, who preaches from the pulpit about righteousness, is the leader of the Devil worship, and Goody Cloyse who teaches the catechism too walks the dark path. It seems that in this town of fraudulent Puritans, no one is immune to the power of the dark one. No one, that is but Young Goodman Brown, for he alone has his Faith.