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Young Goodman Brown, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1010 words - 4 pages

There is nothing but black all around the forest. Only the stars shine bright as the dark trees and path calls forth the treacherous Indians and shadows of the night. Bushes close behind as mysterious sounds race underfoot. There is even a smidge of black in the good man’s heart, whose owner is walking through the sea of dark with an equally, if not more, serpent-like staff carrying dark companion. This respectable man is Young Goodman Brown, as portrayed in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown”. The forest is only a small part of the setting, as this also takes place in a village in Salem Massachusetts and surrounding area the year 1692. The mood is heavy with superstition, confusion, doubt, betrayal, and shallowness. Goodman Brown sets the exposition as he parts with his sweet, pink-capped wife, Faith, to leave at dusk for the ominous meeting in the forest with the inexplicable companion. Evil and doubt merge as the two walk, eventually meeting a seemingly good woman who is on her way to a sinister meeting. Astonishment hits young Goodman as the true nature of the woman is revealed, and his companion disappears. More trusted, holy people ride on for the same meeting, and the climax is not until Goodman hears the anguished cry of Faith, and sees her helpless, pink ribbon, did he follow the people like a delirious man. He comes upon a blazing-red rock, with the townspeople trying to convince the Browns to give up faith. A sharp crack suddenly sounds, and Goodman sits dazed by a tree. The denoument starts the next morning, when he stumbles into the village, never quite the sane man he was again. Hawthorne discloses in this story that one simple journey might change one’s life, and perhaps even the perspective.
Hawthorne’s point of characterization has several effects on both the protagonist and the overall story. For example, the protagonist himself (Goodman Brown) undergoes the main change, including an entirely different view of life. He seems to be a young man “just three months married”. Goodman is also quite gullible by the look of things. Faith, Goodman’s wife, is the whole motive that causes Goodman to come across the evil meeting, and to stay reluctant from meeting the stranger. “Faith kept me back a while.” The stranger, who travels with young Goodman, seems very similar and different to Goodman himself, as far as looks go. Yet, he is the one persuading Goodman to go the opposite way of Faith’s, reasoning for him to go farther when Goodman said he would not go on this path any farther. The “good” townspeople seem like the ideal community: Goody Cloyse teaching the children, the minister, and the duke bestowing blessings and all praying. Goodman has no doubt they are good, until he sees them at the meeting. In addition, Hawthorne’s characters are more than characters; they are symbols pertaining to life. Young Goodman Brown represents the young, wary traveler and the religious person testing what he...

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