The Heart Of Men Essay

1016 words - 5 pages

Mankind has long pondered the good and evil in the world and his or her place in it. Sometimes, people come to a conclusion based on their study of tradition or personal beliefs, and sometimes, an event propels us towards certain conclusions. “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorn is a romantic short story loaded with gothic symbolism which shows a man’s struggle with his own religious beliefs and his understanding of the nature of mankind.
The main character or protagonist of the story is young Goodman Brown. He begins as an optimistic young man who believes he lives in a good puritan town amongst godly people who “are a people of prayer, and good works” (Hawthorne 331). Even his name ...view middle of the document...

The old man in the forest who accompanies Goodman Brown can be seen as a
Wizard or as Goody Cloyse calls him, “the Devil” (332). The old man choosing his appearance to resemble that of Goodman Brown’s grandfather represents the evil that can be found inside him as well as the evil deeds of his family’s past. This devil in disguise carries a staff that resembles a serpent. The serpent shape of the staff is significant because in the Christian religious belief the serpent is a symbol of evil or of the devil. This point is made further by comparing the staff to an Egyptian magi’s staff when he threw it a Goody Cloyse’s feet and sent her to the black mass in an instant.
The “dreary road” in the forest is symbolic for the dark path in life Goodman Brown has chosen to take on this particular evening (330). He knows what he is doing is wrong and battles with his conscience deciding to meet the man, but then changing his mind refusing to go farther into the woods and wanting to return to his “Faith”. This is an example of his symbolic struggle to maintain his puritan beliefs. However, with very little urging on the old man’s part, he continues his journey until again he stops, deciding not to stray towards evil. This is a classic struggle of a man in the midst of a religious crisis trying to decide between his faith and maintaining his goodness or succumbing to the evil temptations of the world. When he first meets up with the old man in the woods, he tells him “Faith kept me back awhile”, which is a clear example of his struggle (330). His religious beliefs or “Faith” make him hesitate from pursuing his evil mission for the evening. During the course of the entire story, he is given many opportunities to leave his evil...

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