Loss of Faith in Young Goodman Brown
In the Bible, God commands Moses to go up Mount Sinai to receive divine instruction. When he comes back, his people, the Israelites, have gone crazy. They have forgotten Moses, and forgotten their God. They form their own god, a golden calf, and build an altar. They even had a festival for the golden calf. "Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and sat down to indulge in revelry" (Exodus 32:6). Moses then went down the mountain and got so angry that he smashed the tablets with the Ten Commandments on them. The Israelites lost faith because they could not see the God they were worshipping, so they forgot him and began worshipping a false idol. The Israelites are not very different from modern man. In his short story, "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne shows why man loses faith. Man loses faith because of pride, weakness, and erroneous values.
Pride causes man to lose faith. Often man tries to handle situations on his own. He seeks to contend with evil by himself. In "Young Goodman Brown," the title character becomes crazy and confronts evil, "Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powwow, come devil himself! And here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you!" (Hawthorne 324). Goodman Brown feels that he will be the demise of sin. He assumes that he is strong enough to conquer it all single-handedly. Pride also prevents man from realizing his own imperfections. When wandering in the wilderness, Young Goodman Brown says, "A marvel, truly, that Goody Cloyse should be so far in the wilderness at nightfall" (Hawthorne 320). The wilderness symbolizes any sinful place. Young Goodman Brown fails to realize that the only reason he can see Goody Cloyse in the wilderness is that he is there also. Pride also makes man seek knowledge he does not need. The Devil carries a staff that "bore the likeness of a great black snake" (Hawthorne 318). Hawthorne uses this as a reference to the story of Adam and Eve in the Bible. The serpent in the Bible led Eve to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Eating from this tree barred Adam and Eve from paradise (Genesis 3). The staff in "Young Goodman Brown" leads Goodman Brown to the ceremony in the forest. Goodman Brown's faith is destroyed after the ceremony. Later Goodman Brown declares that he comes from "a race of honest men and good Christians" (Hawthorne 318). The Devil reminds him of all of the wrong that these men have done. This causes loss in faith because Young Goodman realizes that all of his forefathers have done bad deeds in the name of good. Pride causes man to lose faith.
Man also loses faith because of erroneous values. Man often believes that good deeds can erase evil deeds. Young Goodman Brown's young wife, Faith, symbolizes man's religion. Before leaving for his evil deed in the forest, Young Goodman Brown says, "After this one night I'll cling to her skirts...