The Hero's Journey In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1241 words - 5 pages

The Hero's Journey in Young Goodman Brown

 

Faith is accepting what you are taught or told without trying to prove or disprove it, rather than discovering it through experience. Those who believe in God have faith. It has not been proven that God exists; similarly, it has not been proven that humans are kind, honest, and good by nature. Young Goodman Brown is a character in "Young Goodman Brown," who leaves his known world in Salem village and travels an unknown road in a dark forest in the middle of the night, a common motif in literature better known as the Hero's journey, and is faced with obstacles. He must decide if he will carry his journey out till the end, or turn back and not learn the truth about himself and other humans.

The story "Young Goodman Brown," by Nathaniel Hawthorne traces Young Goodman Brown's experiences, physical and psychological, paralleling the Hero's Journey and showing how he discovers that humans are truly evil by nature; therefore, altering his views of other humans and life itself. In the beginning of the story, Goodman Brown is faced with a decision to stay home with his wife another night or to take off on his journey. This parallels his psychological decision to leave behind all that he knew to be true up until that point and discover the truth no matter how harsh it may be. The call, from the Hero's journey, is when Goodman Brown decides to go out alone to discover himself. Faith, his wife, is urging him to stay with her instead of leaving that night. She almost convinces Brown to stay, but his desire to discover himself overpowers his desire to stay with Faith.

The struggle going on inside of Goodman Brown's head is really between remaining innocent and having blind faith in the nature of man or embarking on the journey to discover his true self, no matter what that may be. The threshold, or jumping off point for Brown, is when he has made his final decision to ignore his wife's pleas and take his journey. It is ironic when Faith finally lets him go and says, "Then God bless you! ...and may you find all well when you come back" (pg. 87). He is only gone one night and nothing substantial changes in Salem village while he is gone, but since he is so dramatically changed emotionally during his excursion, he remains sad and distrustful for the rest of his life, due to knowing the truth about human nature.

Young Goodman Brown must leave behind his known world, Salem village, and enter an unknown world, the forest, to face challenges he must be capable of overcoming. Allegorically, he embarks on a psychological and spiritual odyssey. Entering an unknown territory is scary and puts a person at a much higher physical and emotional risk. "There may be a devlish Indian behind every tree" shows how insecure Young Goodman Brown is in the forest because he is exposing himself to danger, which in this case, is evil itself (pg. 88). He must stay strong and overcome his weaknesses to get past his...

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