Young Goodman Brown1

In “Young Goodman Brown” Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism and irony to illustrate the theme of man, oblivious that sin is an inescapable part of human nature, attempting to escape from sin. The way in which Hawthorne uses to describe the way Goodman Brown is changed by realizing the reality of the world is superb. By using the idea of dreams to convey the point of no body in the world is perfect was I believe an excellent idea. The idea that mankind is perfectible, or perhaps that good Puritans are without imperfection, seems to dominate the world view of Hawthorne’s Puritan character, Young Goodman Brown. His naive ideas are contrasted against the vision of profound betrayal in the forest to create a stark illustration of one possible “truth.” Goodman Brown’s struggle between the evil temptations, the devil, and the proper church abiding life, is a struggle he does not think he can face. He reiterates his false confidence to himself repeatedly. This characteristic of Goodman Brown is similar to the life lead by the author Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of self-doubt. Nathaniel Hawthorne was an unhappy person his entire life, never satisfied with his accomplishments. At the story’s outset, Young Goodman Brown bids farewell to his young wife. The facet of Brown’s life which she represents is illustrated by her name “Faith.” and in Hawthorne’s visual description, “…thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap…”(pg.310) The very image of this woman’s “pretty head” being “thrust” out into the world after Goodman Brown, as the wind, an unforgiving element of profane nature, fondles her pink ribbons, sets up the comparison between nature and the home symbolically. Nature, specifically the wind, the forest, the darkness of evening, symbolizes evil and sinfulness. The home, namely Faith and her ribbons, symbolizes the perceived safety and surety of the Pu…

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