Nathaniel Hawthorne's “Young Goodman Brown”

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The Significance of Faith in "Young Goodman Brown"

Young Goodman Brown is a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story that is engaging to its readers because it provides a spectacular grasp of the story and profound attention to specifics. Hawthorne is concerned about humanity's problems with faith and identity.

The Puritan Village of Salem

The plot takes place in Salem, a Puritan village named by Hawthorne. It is important to remember that the universal rules of Christianity are strictly observed in the Puritan settlement. The story expresses the deeply held Puritan conviction that society exists in a state of wickedness and that God has meant some of the inhabitants to unconditional election by unmerited grace.

Questioning Goodman Brown's True Faith

This paper aims to address a fundamental question that arises in the analysis of the story: does Goodman Brown have true faith at the end of the story? For this crucial question to be fully answered, the paper identifies the relevance of Goodman’s journey and the significance it has in determining how he lost his faith.

The Use of Allegory in "Young Goodman Brown"

The story Young Goodman Brown is often associated with the use of allegory, which is centered in the identification of depravity and evil in discussing the nature of humanity (Reynolds 16). The story begins very significantly by mentioning the commencement of an unknown journey into the forest by Goodman Brown (Hawthorne).

Symbols and Names

The greatest challenge Goodman faced in his journey is the disappearance of his wife in the forest and his relentless efforts in searching for her that strained his faith. The language used in the story is very significant considering to the period in which the setting of this book takes place and to strengthen the message conveyed by Hawthorne. The author depicts the wholesome beliefs in the setting where he has chosen particular names such as “Young Goodman” and “Faith” for his wife (Reynolds 16).

The Symbolism of Goodman's Journey

Young Goodman’s journey into the forest depicts the Christian walk and is symbolic to the “self-exploration” undergone by believers. When Goodman is offered by the man a serpent-shaped thing, he rejects to hold the thing, which shows his effort to resist evil and upholds his faith in the journey. However, when Goodman calls out to the voice of his wife in the forest, and he gets no response he becomes worried, and this leads him away from his path in the journey into the dense forest which is filled with temptations (Hawthorne). It leaves him running without focus in the “sinful” forest in search of his lost wife Faith. Goodman holds firmly to his belief even though everyone else turns to evil and he maintains he will be strong for the sake of Faith who Goodman believes he still has a chance to save. Goodman in his search for “Faith” in the congregation in the forest, gets confused when he notices Faith, his wife is among the converts (Hawthorne). Goodman losses faith in the end when he becomes suspicious of everyone even “Faith” and the Deacon.

The Symbolism and Loss of Faith in "Young Goodman Brown"

In the short story, “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorne applies the use of symbolism to assist the audience to understand the faith of Goodman. The use of “Faith” as the name of Goodman’s wife is one of the primary examples. In the onset of his journey, Goodman meets an old man with a staff which is shaped like a serpent who offers it to Goodman, but he declines (Person 56). Here Goodman is given the option of joining evil to smoothen his journey, but he rejects. However, towards the end of the story, while Goodman was in the forest, he concludes that there is no good left in the world since Faith is lost to evil and he picks the evil staff which takes him to the gathering in the forest.

Hawthorne mentions in his story, “A figure appears in the rocks.” In this situation, Goodman assumes the figure to be a representation of his father. The story further suggests how the "figures" of Goodman’s father and mother try and hold him back from converting. For a moment, this effort by the shadows of Goodman’s parents seemed to gain his attention until he is distracted by the Deacon Gookin and the minister. Goodman’s faith at this point is mild, and he is in turmoil as he tries to search desperately for “Faith” (Person 56). In the short story, Goodman is said to be married to Faith for a few months which is a representation of his “young faith” which is tested in the journey in the forest. In the end, Goodman resents his wife, Faith and even refuses to greet her which vividly shows he had lost his faith.

The Significance of Faith and Humanity in "Young Goodman Brown"

Young Goodman Brown is a fascinating literary work by Hawthorne. This paper has focused keenly on the aspects of “Faith and Humanity” which is the core of the short story. “Goodman” and his wife, “Faith” have their names explicitly chosen to show the relationship between the main actor in the story, Goodman, and his journey of faith. The paper has focused on the two main questions in the analysis of the short story. The first question involved the Goodman’s faith at the end of the story and whether it was true. Goodman did not have true faith since, at the end of the story, he ended up suspecting everyone including the Deacon and his wife Faith. Hawthorne vastly used religious symbols in showing faith in his short story. Hawthorne literary works are famous for instilling lessons and morals which are carried forward from one generation to the other.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Accessed 8 Nov. 2017.

Person, Leland S. The Cambridge Introduction to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Reynolds, Larry John. A Historical Guide to Nathaniel Hawthorne. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2001.

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