Prof. John Hoskins
October 9th, 2014
" The Transformation of Young Goodman Brown
" Young Goodman Brown, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a story of a man who undergoes a
transformation that changes his outlook on his beliefs, personal relationships and his childhood
innocence. This is a man who goes against his own beliefs only to discover that everything he
has known, is in fact a lie. It is never revealed if what Goodman Brown experienced that night
was real, or if it was all his imagination, but through this experience he starts to question the
people of his town, his wife, and even his own faith. With loss of his innocence, Goodman
Brown becomes a changed man, never fully trusting anyone again. At the start of the story the
author has developed a setting with characters and a community that symbolizes Goodman
Brown's religion, life and innocence. Although, after his journey the reader is lead to believe that
Goodman Brown has discovered the truth about evil in the world around him. Though
completely oblivious to it before, he is now able to see that evil lurks behind all the trusting faces
of his home.
Venturing into the woods that night was a choice made by Goodman Brown out of his
own curiosity. He knew that his quest had an evil purpose and although he hated to leave his
wife, he knew he had to go, even wanted to. He parts his wife with a kiss and tells her to say her
prayers before he leaves her for the night, and when he returns he will "cling to her skirts and
follow her to heaven" (190). This shows a shortcoming in Brown's religious faith. He has
already began to change his beliefs and realizes that his trust in god is not strong enough to get
him to heaven on his own. The only way for him to remain faithful is through his wife's purity.
From the very beginning of his travels the reader can see that this will in fact be a test of Brown's
faith in all aspects of his life.
On his way through the woods, the first person Brown comes across is the companion.
This person represents three different things in Goodman Brown's life: knowledge, the devil, and
everyone's ability to do evil. As they walk the companion offers him his snake like staff to help
quicken their slow pace, however, Brown is against touching the evil stick and tells the
companion that "having kept … [his] purpose now to return whence I came"(192). Through this
statement the reader is given the impression that Goodman Brown is regretting meeting this man
in the woods, and wishes he hadn't come at all. But the companion then begins to speaks of
knowing Brown's father and grandfather, and the evil that they had participated in. Brown is
quick to deny these statements as he tells the companion, "we are people of prayer, and good
works to boot, and abide no such wickedness"(192). The thought of his family being
acquaintances with the devil is too much for him to bear. This is another portrayal in the change
of goodman Brown and how he...