Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown Research Paper
Dec 7th, 2011 Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown Show me who you are and I will show you who I am, Christian belief, family, trust, and good versus evil are author Nathaniel Hawthorne’s muse in his novels. Hawthorne’s writings capture the audience by keeping them entangled in the atmospheres he paints for his readers. He also captures the reader with the message underling in each novel. His novels play on the reader’s morals by putting a religious box around his readers. Readers are able to put themselves in Hawthorne’s writings and say what if?
In Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”, the audience is introduced to a young man who is preparing to take a journey into the unknown. Faith, his wife begs him to stay the character is persistent on taking his journey. While Goodman is taking this journey he is accompanied by an older male who by all terms seems to be the devil. Goodman has strong beliefs in his family, community, and most importantly his faith, but this will all become a fleeing thought after his journey with his companion. Although Goodman has strong christened belief and family this is test when his companion through the forest reveals his family to him.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown Research Paper Essay Example
As much as Goodman believes in his father and grandfather goodness, it’s hard for him to ignore his companion. This site began to crumble Goodman’s faith in his family and what he had always been taught. He shows Goodman his family as they are ready to act in a veil manner against another. Goodman’s wife Faith is also there among the people carrying out this act. The site of his wife hurts Goodman, he screams to her “Faith, Faith look up to heaven and resist the evil one” (Eastery, 1991), but his screams fall on death ears.
As they continue to walk through the forest the companion tells Goodman he has been well acquainted with his family, “I helped your grandfather the constable when he lashed the Quaker woman smartly through the street of Salem,” and he brought his father a” pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip’s war. ” (Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown, 2009). Once Goodman listened to this old man as they continued through the forest he start’s to feel a lack of truth within his religion.
It would seem that Goodman is being taught a cruel lesson by choosing to take this journey. “in doing so, he willfully betrays his commitment to his wife, the moral codes of his society, and the teachings of his religion” (Eastery, 1991). This one night in the forest changes Goodman forever. He is no longer the same man he was when he entered the forest. The experience “poisons his relationship with his wife, isolates him from his neighbors, and destroys his ability to worship God” (Eastery, 1991). After this night in the forest he is sad, distrustful, and has a darkness surrounding him.
When the character dies he is remembered as someone who has lost is way “they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone” (Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown, 2009). What is so intriguing about this story is the underlying thought process that Hawthorne uses. Here he is showing a young man that is given a test of his moral and spiritual maturity. After the witch meeting vanishes Goodman seems to be a different person. He shows no compassion for the weakness he sees in others, no remorse for his own sin, and no sorrow for his loss of faith. The one act that would show redemptive and human feelings does not take place.
Hawthorne use “the lightest sprinkle of the coldest dew upon his cheeks” (Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown, 2009), as an metaphor to signify the absence of tears. The dew represents the lack of tears on the outside while the character is having and inward struggle because he has lost the ability to love and the humility that would have made it possible for his more and spiritual progression. The Puritan Goodman “has just seen the sinfulness of his friend and neighbors exposed, and has become acutely aware of the evil in his own heart” (Eastery, 1991).
Not only does Goodman display lack of pity for his brethren, he shows no regret for his own wickedness that led him to take the path in the first place. The weakness of his flesh to know what was beyond the darkness of the forest. The dew placed upon his cheeks represents the absent of tears and the absence of remorse for others this is the representation Hawthorne uses to show” a soul that is dying” (Eastery, 1991). Author Eastery states that because the character Goodman showed no remorse, he cried not one tear, and he held a lack of forgiveness for his fellowman, that Goodman had not yet reached adulthood.
This to the author was a sign of not fully understanding the weakness of human flesh and that temptation is hard to resist when so many others are doing wrong. Even Goodman himself gave into temptation by going into the forest that night. He did not turn back for love or because he had faith that the forest held no secrets he went because the devil tempted him to take the journey. Author David Levin has similar thought to that of Eastery, as to say that Hawthorne was trying to show his audience the faultiness of Goodman’s judgment.
Levin states that Goodman decision to take his journey was “his indulgence in sin” (Levin, 1962). Levin also shows how the devil was not only present but was conjured by Goodman himself. It is as if to say I am looking for evil and who else to show me but the one most wicked. The devil convinces brown that even the most wholly of man has a spot of evil in them. This was the first sign that Goodman was not yet a man because of the easy manipulation of the devil. After all that brown encounters on this journey he now questions if there is a heaven, he now wonders is there any good life in his people.
Concreting these feeling Goodman hears faith, his wife among the crowd of sinners he calls out to her to only hear laughter and her pink ribbon flies to him. At this point Goodman believes the devil owns the world and everything in it. What Goodman does not seem to see is all of this is the devil’s attempt to undermined his faith. With all of the tricks and visions he shows Goodman he has altered his thought process and taken away the faith he once had in the community and family. He has also become tortured by his wife Faith’s love.
Although Goodman has a hard time wrapping around his mind rather the visions that he has seen are real or just shadows the devil has made, he never treats his wife or the people in his community the same. Goodman had become a tortured soul and of shell of the person he once was (Levin, 1962). Goodman could no longer look at the world the same his desire and religious heart had been shattered. To think of the things his family, wife and community where doing was enough to drive Goodman mad.
From the point of exiting his journey he shrieked away from faith and although she tried her best to love him he never felt for her the same way life for Goodman became a living hell. Goodman brown is a story of a man looking for something he does not know what lies in store for him in this forest but, curiosity won’t let him turn around. His companion shows him his deepest fears and that is a family and community lost to sin. Goodman has given up on life and faith after his experience. Nothing seems the same for him after this he dies an unhappy and untrusting man.
There are so many turning points in this story that depict the shattering of a man. A man who’s life has always been built around faith, his beliefs in goodness, and purity. His community and the legacy of his family were his possessions until his curiosity led him into the forest of the damned. Hawthorne is simply trying to show his audience the outcome of taking the wrong path. He also shows that if one has an open heart and mind to the imperfections of mankind life might have been easier for Goodman after his journey. In many ways, much of this tale is allegorical in nature, partly because of the mutability of all of the symbols.
If this were an allegory it could be summarized by stating that this is one man’s realization that he is surrounded by opposing forces without ever knowing which of them are good or which are evil (Eastery, 1991). Faith is the light in the story, the only way one can be saved, yet by walking into the forest with a man who literally clings to the serpent which is a representation of the devil. Goodman is leaving behind his Faith and asking for the truth about who is good or evil. He has taken a risk that many wont because of what could be shown as true.