Nathaniel Hawthorne and His Religious Connotations in His Works
Nathaniel Hawthorne is noted for his religious connotations in his works. Young Goodman Brown, The Minister's Black Veil and The Birthmark is three exemplary stories. His writing technique uses ambiguity in that the reader is opened to many different ways of interpretation. In respect to religious methodology the main character's of these short stories all encounter some sort of revelation.
In Young Goodman Brown the main character leaves his pure wife Faith adorned in pink ribbons symbolizing her innocent nature on a short but very intriguing journey. His walk begins in the woods adjacent to Salem Village, and with him he is accompanied by a devilish character. It seems unlikely that Goodman Brown would be associating with shady man, as he knew that Goodman Brown was a devout Puritan and bared such a respectable name. "I have been well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritan's." (Hawthorne 312) This being said by the older man, Brown decided reluctantly to move on. He knows whom he is dealing with but still ventures on. In the back of his mind he was always thinking of Faith, his wife, and "faith" the most important thing in a Puritan's life. Hawthorne uses the word faith as a symbol that Brown must
turn around and come back to his wife and his faith. He explains "But were I to go on with thee, how should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem Village?" (Hawthorne 313) Young Goodman is seeing that his involvement with this man was wrong and he must leave, but still he continues on after seeing the encounter the old man had with Goody Cloyse. Goody screeched "The devil!" upon meeting the shady man. She herself was an evil woman in the eyes of Brown. He couldn't believe it was happening because she was such a pious and well respected Puritan. All that Brown can say to his acquaintance is "That old woman taught me my catechism." (Hawthorne 313)
Through his journey with the devil Goodman brown witnesses more and more hideous and unholy sights and sounds. The forest becomes a nightmare to the young man and he still proceeds on. He sees his honorable minister and the good deacon traveling along the path speaking of a meeting in the forest. Brown doesn't understand knowing that a meeting was never held out there. He proceeds on and finally comes to this wretched place. The horrid sounds fill his ears and boggle his mind. The congregation of his beloved church is there before the altar of a flaming rock surrounded by flame engulfed trees. But one person is missing, Faith. A figure escorts a fair damsel to the altar. The devil makes a speech and tells
the assembly that evil is the nature of mankind and the only thing that has importance. The young man is summoned to the altar and we see that the lady was Faith. They are the two whom have not gone to the dark side. His last words before Faith is baptized into darkness are...