this was my research to writing my paper. In Young Goodman Brown, the main character, Goodman Brown has a bout with his own faith. He ends up losing this battle because of the wickedness in everyone else's hearts. He begins by wanting to be the evil one, then progresses to be the faithful one as the night in the woods goes on. His name has a lot to do with the character in the story. The "Young" in his name is to symbolize innocence, and "GOODMAN" is pretty self-explanatory.
He goes off in to the woods and comes with a lost faith in everyone else in the town. Goodman Brown decides he wants to go off into the woods for one last night of evilness before married life really kicked in. He says, "What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! ... Well; she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven." Goodman's father and grandfather were devout Christians. They knew that the evils of the real world hid in the forest, as did Goodman. But he still went in! He let this man with the serpent staff keep him from turning around, and getting out of the woods.
On page 274 the evil man says, "We are but a little way in the forest, yet." Goodman responds, "Too far, too far," but didn't realize he was still walking farther into the woods! He says he has walked too far into the woods, but is still going! He is being overtaken by the evilness of the woods. Just when I thought he was turned to the evil side, Goodman sees his wife's hair-ties. This is where he starts to turn back to the good side of life. On page 277, Goodman says, "Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powwow, come devil himself! and here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you!" This is where Goodman turns back to the good side, when he finds out the devil is consuming his Faith. When Goodman and Faith are on the evil altar, Goodman says, "Faith! Faith! Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!" Obviously Faith was evil-hearted because she was at this gathering with the devil.
She went there to be inducted into the group and Goodman tried to stop her. This wasn't a dream he was having because on page 280 it says, "while a hanging twig, that had been all on fire." There was a twig on fire and it brushed against his cheek. Faith is an appropriate name for Goodman's wife. It symbolizes the loss of Goodman's faith in everyone in the town. He loses Faith, his wife, to the evil side. At the end of the story it says he grows and has an uneventful, drab life.
I think the point Goodman is trying to make is that everyone has an evil side in them, even if they say they believe in Christ. Revealing the Mistakes of Puritanism" Proverbs 10: 28 implies the idea of the universality of sin in saying "The prospect of the righteous is joy, but the hopes of the wicked come to nothing." In "Young Goodman Brown", Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates this through Brown's actions. When Brown lives a righteous life with good faith, his thoughts remain pure and happy. He has a wonderful wife, and he enjoys the presence of everyone.
As he takes his walk into the forest and into evil ways, his hopes and faith disappear. He no longer loves his wife in the same way, and he despises everyone whom people consider were holy. When he loses his faith, he loses his happiness. To regain his happiness, Brown must find his righteousness again. Puritans believe there is no hope for a sinner. Hawthorne uses a variety of writing techniques to condemn the rigidity of Puritanism.
For example, Hawthorne uses a wide variety of diction to create a mystical and hopeless mood. As Brown walks into the "dreary" forest, an "uncertain" feeling comes over him as he looks ahead to the "gloom" awaiting him. The forest is very dark and dreary and these words help create the eerie mood. These words create an insecure and unsure feeling in the reader's mind. The reader feels as if he stands right there on the outskirts of the forest along with Brown. That type of feeling scares even the bravest of men.
Hawthorne also describes the events taking place in the forest as "devilish,"horrid," and "evil." Evil completely surrounds Brown in the forest. It puts a thought in him which drives him crazy. These words give a very insecure feeling to the reader. No one likes the feeling of evil, which Hawthorne portrays all throughout the story. The evil feeling adds to the dreary mood, and it also gives a hopeless feeling to the reader. Nothing good comes out of evil, and these words tell the reader that something horrible might happen.
He then describes Brown as "stern," or "sad," or even a "desperate man," who needs help. Brown's experiences horrify him. They eventually change him to a stern and sad man. He can never see his friends and loved ones the same.
When you think of hopelessness, disparity often comes to mind. Brown feels desperate and hopeless about his future. He doesn't know what to do about this nightmare. The thought of losing his wonderful past frightens him. Also, symbolism plays a large role in promoting the idea of universal capacity for sin.
For instance, the name alone of Young Goodman Brown stands for every Puritan man. He, like all others, must eventually face sin. Brown's wife Faith also represents belief in Calvinism. When his passion and love for his wife rage like a fire, his faith rages as well. Both his faith and love change throughout the story.
Faith's pink ribbons stand for the attractive guarantee of salvation. The red for sin, and the white for purity. When these ribbons fall to the ground, his faith has essentially hit rock bottom. Also, the traveler that Brown meets reflects the devil. In earlier years he walks with both Brown's parents and grandparents. His serpentine staff suggests evil.
As the two walk down the path into the forest, more symbolism occurs. The path represents the way of life. Brown can either turn around and go back the right way towards God, or he can stay with the traveler and walk into the forest of evil. The forest implies evil and temptation in the sense that darkness and the feeling of seclusion surround him, and if Brown loses his way, it is extremely difficult to find his way back. Also, the peers of Brown such as the minister, Goody Cloyse, and Deacon Gookin symbolize the leadership of the Puritan church. They represent hypocrisy as well.
The leaders of the church have a great deal of respect and admiration, yet they take part in the witches's ab bath and other evil acts. Hence, the entire Puritan church reflects hypocrisy due to these trusted leaders. Lastly, Hawthorne uses characterization to show the different impacts his journey has on his life. He denies himself the companionship of his friends and neighbors. As he walks down the street, he "shrinks from the minister as if to avoid anathema," he "snatches away a child from Goody Cloyse," and he "wonders what god Deacon Gookin" prays to.
Brown sees the minister on the street, and he tries to hide himself. He sees vivid images of the minister which nobody can believe. He also snatches a young child from his former Sunday school teacher because of his visions on her. Apparently she takes part in some of the witches's ab baths.
He can no longer see her in the same light, and he doesn't want the child to have to learn the same lessons he has. He thinks everything she says to the child makes her a hypocrite. His visions also lead him to believe that Deacon Gookin might pray to a different god. His views of all the people in the church change.
His views on family change in the fact that he "scowls and mutters at family prayer," he "walks past Faith without a word," and he "shrinks from the bosom of Faith when he wakes at night." His family which he adores now appears as an awful sight. Family prayer means nothing to him because those people praying still have evil in their spirit. He has no respect for any of them because of their evil. He can't even look at his wife.
He just walks past her without saying anything. All of her sins now haunt him, and he doesn't trust her anymore. When he wakes up he pulls away in fear of her evilness. Because of that one night in the forest, his once strong love for his wife completely changes. He also sees the church differently in the sense that "hymns become anthems of sin," and the "minister is a gray blasphemer," and he expects "the roof to cave in." Everything holy about the church disappears from his mind. Hymns now speak of sin rather than holiness.
The minister speaks of lies, and his life represents evil as well. He expects the roof to fall in because of God's unhappiness about the church's evil ways. He can no longer respect the opinions of the people in the church. His memories also change.
In a flame "there... all whom ye have reverenced from youth," he saw "the shape of his own dead father," and "the dim features... of his mother." Here in this awful, horrible place, he sees his parents whom he thinks of so highly. His views on their righteousness change in an instance.
The parents he loves and admires stand there in front of him in the midst of Hell. Also, everyone from his past stands before him with the guilt of sin. He can never remember these people in the same way in which he wants to. His views on the righteousness of humanity change from good to bad.
Hence, Brown loses his comradery with his neighbors, and he dies a lonely death with no hopeful verse on his tombstone. Tritt's View of "Young Goodman Brown" In the article, "'Young Goodman Brown' and the Psychology of Projection", Michael Tritt critically analyzes Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" to construct the process of how Hawthorne regards Goodman Brown's behavior. Tritt examines the phenomenon of projection in psychology and believes that "Brown's compulsive condemnation of others, along with his consistent denial of his own culpability, illustrates a classically defined case of projection" (116). He defines projection as an unconscious process when a person projects their own traits or desires onto other people, thus representing a false perception on whom the projection is made. Tritt perceives Goodman Brown's withdrawal is from the persuasion that he has not fallen in with his devilish community, thus Goodman Brown projects his guilt to them in an attempt to escape a guilty subconscious. While Goodman Brown is in the forest, he locates his anxieties upon the community that he lives in.
The experience in the forest actually depicts Goodman Brown's own evils. Tritt refers to Goodman Brown snatching away a child being catechized by Goody Cloyse: If Brown truly conceives of himself as fallen, why would he snatch the child from one fiend to yield yet another, namely himself? Brown must believe himself untainted, or at least less tainted than various members of his community. (115) Michael Tritt believes that Brown's anxieties inevitably stick within his subconscious forever. The anxieties suggest a psychological design with aspects of misperception and false perception to reveal a projection process. Tritt asserts that Goodman Brown's evil is located in others, and Brown believes himself to be without guilt although his desires are still in his subconscious. It is a "vice-like grip with which such process is paralyzing, indeed terrifying" (Tritt 116).
Undoubtedly, Michael Tritt uses a psychological strategy to critically analyze "Young Goodman Brown." He carefully constructs his criticism through quotes from other critics and the short story. Sigmund Freud is also quoted because he theorized the projection process. I believe Michael Tritt wrote from a psychological viewpoint in order to analyze Goodman Brown as if he were a real human being and could be examined in a psychiatrist's office. The psychological strategy makes one think deeper than any other strategy and can reveal numerous possibilities of thoughts within a story. WORK CITED Tritt, Michael. "'Young Goodman Brown' and the Psychology of Projection." Studies in Short Fiction 23.
1 (1986): 113-17. In the short story 'Young Goodman Brown' by Nathaniel Hawthorne we again see the husband cast as the role of antagonist. However, Brown, the husband of this story, affords the conflict in a much more perceptible fashion than seen before in the earlier mentioned writings. Hawthorne begins his story with Brown, who is departing on a business dealing of an unspecified nature, giving his farewells to his wife Faith.
They appear very much in love and the conversation depicts nothing which would lead one to believe that their relationship is anything but perfect. Yet, after further inspection I encountered dialogue which leads me to believe that there may be a deficiency of trust within the relationship. Faith, within their discourse, pleads with Brown to stay at home with her because she is afraid of being alone. Brown responds, in a manner that a guilty man might, 'What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married?' (Hawthorne 634). Hawthorne also uses symbolism to depict the lack of trust which afflicts Young Goodman Brown. Hawthorne speaks, with brevity, of a second traveler, ominously characterized as being much like Brown in appearance yet with a much darker quality.
This second traveler, I believe, embodies all of Brown's own vile and debase essence and represents the struggle with his insufficient faith. After the chain of events which took place in the forest, Brown's beliefs are tested to the fullest extent. He can either except what he saw as reverie, trusting his wife would never succumb to the temptations of such malfeasance, or take what he saw as truth, that many key figures, including Faith, are indeed involved in witchcraft. Hawthorne suggests in his writing that Brown fell victim to the latter. 'Often, awakening suddenly at midnight,' , Hawthorne says of Goodman Brown, 'he shrank from the bosom of Faith; and at morning or eventide, when the family knelt down at prayer, he scowled and muttered to himself, and gazed sternly at his wife, and turned a Many, I am sure, could interpret or acquisition other sources of conflict for each of the three given stories, as could I. However, I have shown that the ultimate inception of discord must be attributed to the husbands in these stories.
Though with varying degrees of distinctness, John's inability to truly understand his wife's needs in 'The Yellow Wallpaper', Bobinot's apathy towards Calista in 'The Storm', and Brown's want of faith in 'Young Goodman Brown', each act as the kindling used to incite the flame of conflict within these writings. In 'Young Goodman Brown,' Hawthorne analyzes the Puritans' consciousness and the hidden wickedness of their nature. He takes a na " ive Puritan man and takes him on a journey into the dark forest to meet an old man whom we presume, is the devil. As the na " ive Puritan embarks on his journey, his wife 'Faith' kisses him good bye.
The Puritan has an overwhelming feeling of guilt as he is entering the forest to meet with the Devil. He realized what he is doing was forbidden and none of his forefathers or fellow Puritans would ever commit such a sin. During his meeting with the Devil his na " ivet'e dissolves. He sees Deacon Gookin, his old catechism teacher, and other upstanding members of the community, whom he looked up to and feared, dancing around the Devil's fire. He is told that the Devil has helped his father and Grandfather in years past. His innocence is completely destroyed when he sees his own wife Faith dancing around the Devils circle.
He screams in agony: 'My faith is gone. There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, Devil; for to thee is this world given.' As he leaves the forest he realizes that those people whom he thought were so pure in spirit were in reality. He goes through a transformation, questioning any form of deity. Hawthorne's use of elaborate symbolism is seen through out the entire story. The na " ive man represents all people, who at first are blind to all the wicked darkness in life.
The forest is a foreshadowing of evil, and is used to set the atmosphere in the story. Hawthorne cleverly uses 'Faith' as the Puritan's wife's name to show his readers that even those whom we entrust with our most intimate love and faith often experience the same temptations and desires as the rest of mankind. The Devil's fire, around which all the townspeople danced, is a representation of all their sins. At the end of the Puritan's journey his transformation is a symbol of what happens to people when faced with the realization that no individual is sinless. This situation is similar to when a child discovers that its once loving and all knowing parents have flaws, it goes through this transition and it too looses its innocence.
Through this gloomy allegory filled will elaborate symbolism Hawthorne conveys his ideas on the darkness of human nature. Frank N. Magill Comments that 'Hawthorne writes about witches and devils like a man who does not really believe in such grotesque creatures but appreciates them as colorful and dramatic symbols of humanity's hidden guilt and fear.' Magill believes that some of Hawthorn's work can be compared to modern horror films, in that both evoke laughter but at the same time they leave their viewer or reader with shivers and shrieks. Magill also believes that 'in Hawthorn's own refined and genteel way, he opened up a new world of human experience for his literary heirs to read.' Eugene Garcia and Bert Hitchcock concur that ' Hawthorne wrote with a high seriousness of purpose, concerning himself primarily with fundamental problems of human character and conscience.' In conclusion the parallel between these two author's styles epitomizes the very essence of what romantic literature of the seventeenth century depicted.
In particular we can see a masterful allegorical use of the English language to shock and mesmerize readers out of reality and into fantasy. This affect is markedly punctuated in Poe's 'The Black Cat' and in Hawthorn's 'Young Goodman Brown'. Within a few pages of each story the reader is carried from reality to fantasy, transposing its principle characters from angels to devils using intricate symbols, colorful metaphors, and enhanced characterization. Both Poe and Hawthorne stretched Realism beyond the scope of the mundane in order to entice their readers and create more allusive images. Poe and Hawthorne created the fundamental structure of the Romantic Age and have set a distinctive precedent in American literature. FAITH' The word faith has many meanings.
Faith is an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence. It can also mean an unquestioning belief in God, religious tenets. Faith can be a belief in anything. Faith can also be a name of a woman.
Young Goodman Brown is a short story about this young man and his wife. This story mostly deals with faith. Goodman Brown is this young man that goes on a journey at night and leaves his wife at home. On his journey he faces some obstacles that makes him lose his faith at the end.
Faith is Goodman Brown's appropriately named wife. She was also young and she was beautiful. She had a lot of faith in God and her religion. In the beginning she didn't want Goodman Brown to leave, but because she had faith in him she agreed. At the end of the story she lost all her faith for Goodman Brown. I think that faith is very important.
People should have faith in God. They should also have faith in other people. I think that is very important to have faith, because without it you it " ll be hard to trust anybody. Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804, in Salem, Massachusetts. In addition, his great-great-grandfather was a judge presiding over the infamous Salem witch trials.
As a result, Hawthorne built resentment toward 'Puritan pride.' So he wrote a allegory about his feelings in 1835. In 'Young Goodman Brown,' Hawthorne uses symbolism throughout the story. Three significant symbols are the title character, his wife, and pink. Hawthorne uses the name 'Young Goodman Brown' as a symbol in the story. 'Young' infers the title character is naive and new at life. Moreover, 'Goodman's suggests his self-righteousness thinking he is a good man.
Furthermore, 'Brown' indicates he is a commoner. Thus, the full name implies he is the average naive and self-righteous Puritan. In addition to the title character's name being a symbol, his wife's name is a symbol. At the beginning of the story, Goodman Brown leaves on a journey without Faith, his new wife. In the same way, the Puritans left their faith 'at home' and set out on a journey apart from their bride, Jesus Christ. Finally, Goodman Brown's desire to journey without Faith leads to her sacrifice.
For example, Goodman complains to the devil saying, 'Faith kept me back awhile.' In the same way, the Puritans sacrifice their faith and try living self-righteously. But since no one is righteous, their attempt was in vain. In addition, Hawthorne incorporates 'pink' as a symbol in the story. Hawthorne uses pink as a symbol four times in the story. In addition, in the Bible scarlet represents sin while white signifies purity. Thus, this symbol represents the blend of purity and sin.
In addition, Hawthorne mentions 'Faith, with pink ribbons' inferring his faith takes on this blend of purity and sin. Finally, Goodman Brown exclaims to Faith, 'Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!' Thus, he shows he never completely loses his faith. In conclusion, Hawthorne uses Young Goodman Brown, Faith, and pink to enhance the story. For example, the names Faith and Young Goodman Brown symbolize more than a name. The name Young Goodman Brown symbolizes the average naive Puritan.
In addition, Faith represents religious faith. Also, pink connotes the blend of sin and purity in Goodman's faith. In his short story 'Young Goodman Brown,' the main character Goodman Brown goes off into the woods and undergoes what will be a life changing experience. 'Young Goodman Brown,' was written in the nineteenth century but is undoubtedly set in the seventeenth century, and for the early Americans in this time period the forest was a symbol of the test of strength, courage, and endurance.
It took a lot of courage to survive there, and the young person entering the forest would not emerge the same. But the story is more symbolic than realistic, and the dangers that Goodman Brown encounters in the forest are not Indians or bears; they are dangers of the spirit. It is no accident that such an experience should have taken place in the forest, because there is a long and extremely profound tradition in American literature where experiences of this nature haven taken place in forest settings. Psychologist Bruno Betelheim observes that 'Since ancient times the near impenetrable forest in which we get lost has symbolized the dark, hidden near-impenetrable world of our unconscious' (Betelheim, 94).
However, this does not appear in 'Young Goodman Brown.' Instead of bravely battling down the dangers of the forest and emerging a more mature person, Goodman Brown emerges a ruined man. It should not go unrecognized that Goodman Brown's wife, a light-hearted, genuine woman, has the name Faith. Faith is not by any means an unusual name for a woman, especially in puritan times, but it becomes significant in the story because she is presented to us first as a very young bride with pink ribbons in her hair, almost like a child. Her pink ribbons symbolize her youth, and her name symbolizes her husband's childlike spirituality at the beginning of the story.
Christianity historically has been a religion of obedience and devotion much more than one of logic, as much as the framers of the age of reason would try to argue otherwise. When the story opens, we see Faith characterized by childlike confidence and purity, which can be contrasted with 'the man with the snake-like staff,' who attempts to persuade Goodman Brown by 'reasoning as we go' (Hawthorne 106). Faith does not attempt to dissuade her husband out of his intentions through reason, but through affection; with 'her lips... close to his ear,' she asks Goodman Brown not to go into the forest on his mysterious errand (Hawthorne, 108).
But we are left to wonder what his errand is. Hawhtorne never tells us, but clearly Goodman Brown has planned for whatever it is. He knows that the point of the journey is less than beneficial, because he feels guilty about leaving his wife on 'such an errand' (Hawthorne, 108). Terence Martin speculated that 'Goodman Brown's Journey into the forest is best defined as a kind of general, indeterminate allegory, representing man's irrational drive to leave his Faith, home, and security temporarily behind, for an unknown reason, to take a chance with one or more errands onto the wilder shores of experience' (Martin, 92).
Q. D. Observes that the 'theme of the story is simply going to the devil for reasons such as lust, certainly, but more for knowledge' (Lang, 91). Goodman Brown also seems to know whom he is going to meet there, because when he meets the man with the snake-like staff, he is startled by the 'sudden appearance of his companion' who was nonetheless 'not totally expected' (Hawthorne, 109). Snakes of course signify the devil, and if this individual was not the devil himself, he is certainly a representative of him. His staff is later described as twisted as well.
What is here are all the elements of the quest story: the journey into an uncharted and dangerous realm, symbolizing the unconscious, and, shortly after the journey begins, the meeting with the guide who knows this forbidden and mysterious territory well (Martin 100). However, at this point the story veers significantly away from its traditional path. Goodman Brown announces that he does not want to go any further into the forest. He has met the man at the edge of the forest by a previously made arrangement, in response to a vow of some sort; and, 'having kept covenant by meeting thee here, it is my purpose now to return from whence I cam. I have scruples touching the matter thou work " st of' (Hawthorne, 110). Having read the entire story, it can be interpreted on two levels.
Goodman Brown may feel, as he says that the exploration of the inner forest may be a sin. It is easier by far to follow the 'accepted' path of faith, to walk, as the church often says, 'in the light' (Hawthorne 110). By walking in the light, and by following precisely the doctrine of Christian life and avoiding all situations where morality does not separate itself into clear areas of black and white, one feels safe, clean, and perhaps virtuous. By doing this, one also misses out on the depth, and the richness that a fuller experience of life might offer. But it is unquestionably an easier path. However, others choose to walk into the forest of their unconscious, where there is no light.
'This can be a scary experience, and one fraught with danger, and is often characterized by the clouds hiding the previously twinkling stars' (Betelheim 110). The real forest is the home of the madman, and sometimes the devil himself. To venture into this unknown land is risky, and to venture into it without being prepared is to be mad, yet we can see that this is clearly what Young Goodman Brown has done. He knows exactly why he is going, but is not at all prepared for what he will find there, namely the sinful natures not only of himself, but horrifyingly, also his wife. He emerges from this experience a completely changed man, but because he was unprepared to accept the visions he would receive there with tolerance and grace, he has been changed for the worst. Goodman Brown was supposed to learn that everyone is human, and should be treated with compassion.
Instead he learned that everyone is a sinner, and forever treats people with abhorrence. Enlightenment can impart great wisdom, but only those minds, which are open to receiving it. Goodman Brown was not. The story about Young Goodman Brown centers around the allegory of a man pitted against his past and his desires to reach beyond that which his benighted heaven would put before him. The allegory is Christian due to the references in Young Goodman Brown to the devil and Satan; it only seems logical that the crux of the story is based upon the religious imagery of Hawthorne's New England in the times of Salem and active religious strife. The beginning of the story mentions the goodman's wife, Faith.
The names of the characters alone serve as an indication of what Hawthorne puts as an obvious religious allegory with the goodman and faith soon to be pitted against an unspeakable evil. The goodman even swears that after this night he will 'cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.' The devil awaits Young Goodman Brown as he states that the clock of the old south was striking but a few minutes past (Hawthorne is stating how quickly the devil can move -- intensifying the airs of the preternatural). Young Goodman Brown replies to the devil that faith was keeping him away -- Hawthorne's play on words should not be overlooked as this also leads to the realization that a man (a good one) can deal with the devil and possibly win. At this stage in the story the reader still has hope for the goodman who must now deal with what he feels is his duty honor-bound. A 'good man' in Hawthorne's day was a person who came from a proper lineage. This very lineage Hawthorne exploits as he begins the goodman's discourse with the devil.
The goodman claims that he is from a family of good men that have never been into the forest on such an errand to meet the devil; Hawthorne depends upon this defense to criticize the patriarchal lineage upon which a person places his worth. This view is quickly derailed as the devil himself states that all of his ancestors were with him as they tortured women in Salem or burned to the ground Indian villages, and afterwards the devil and his ancestors would go for a friendly walk. Hawthorne has derided the institution of Young Goodman Brown's lineage, and his society's view of honor by pointing to some simple facts. The question remains as to whom or what is the devil. If the devil points to the painful truth of the past and the reality of people in the present, is this the allegorical face of evil? Or is Hawthorne playing upon the reader's disposition to see the devil as evil and stand next to the 'good man' and his fate? Either way the story forces an evaluation of the values of Puritan New England. When Young Goodman Brown decides to not follow the devil into the world of darkness, the role reversal of the allegorical subplot begins.
The devil has apparently infested all of the Puritan's souls with sin (at least to the eyes of Young Goodman Brown after he discovers that all of the town has met the devil and is on friendly terms with him). This leads to Young Goodman Brown being described as a lunatic who cannot discern his religious fanaticism from reality. This is Hawthorne's comment upon the religious communities of his time, like his Scarlet Letter; the Puritans with their gift of free religion had decided to insure that no diversity of opinion could be presented and also the community was seen as pure and rid of all external 'evils'. Hawthorne clearly shows that the evils are manifest in men's actions and not in men's ideologies or even their religions. We cannot lean on the crutch of religion, not when we are raping and killing to gain land or 'purity'. The symbolism of Young Goodman Brown's moral decline bypasses the conscious, logical mind and is located in a more dreamlike process.
It is interpreted to show that no one truly falls into the category of good or evil. Hawthorne's use of symbolism shows the neutrality between good and evil and appearance and reality so that the reader is unable to comprehend the difference. Throughout the story, good and evil are described through a bombardment of metaphors. Brown's long and winding journey through the forest, for example, represents his struggle between his conscious and subconscious. Brown meets the devil at a fork in the road which symbolizes the paths to heaven or hell. Obviously with the devil at his side, Brown took the latter.
The story begins in Brown's village. The village is a traditional Puritan background: pure, innocent, and god-fearing, which can also illustrate Brown's conscious. Before entering the forest, Brown looks back at his wife. As described in the story, Brown sees his wife, Faith, peeping back at him with her pink ribbons blowing in her hair. The pink ribbons embody the safety, security, and refuge from sin Brown was leaving behind. Brown statement, 'after this one night I'll cling on to her skirts and follow her into heaven' (96), shows his guilty pride since he believes he can sin by virtue of his promise to himself.
Leaving the village, he enters the forest which represents his subconscious that is infested with evil and sinister thoughts. Furthermore, it allegorically represents every man's journey for knowledge, though knowledge is usually intertwined with evil such as the Tree of Knowledge in the Adam and Eve story. All the people and objects Brown encounters in the forest are characters of Brown's subconscious coming to life. In the forest, Brown meets the devil, though the words 'devil' or 'Satan' are never used to describe him. The dark character resembles Young Goodman Brown but is obviously older.
The story declares that they both could pass for father and son. The resemblance of the old man to Brown represents the foreshadowing of Brown's future, but Brown is yet to understand that. The devil's staff, which resembles a snake, refers to the same snake who lead Adam and Eve to their downfall in the Bible just as Satan is doing to Brown. The characters in the forest depict events to come when the most pious and religious figures of the Puritan village are found in the forest during Brown's journey. Goody Cloyse, Brown's former catechism teacher, current spiritual adviser, and publicly considered an excellent, old Christian, turns out to be a witch and a follower of Satan. Brown's discovery of Satan and Goody Cloyse as colleagues shocks him, as he cannot see good and evil intermingling.
However, his pride prevents him from realizing that his faults are the same as Goody Cloyse. Later, the minister and deacon of the village church are traveling along the trail conversing about the upcoming satanic communion while Brown hides from their view. The characters and their actions give background to what the devil is trying to tell him before. Distraught and appalled, Brown makes one last attempt to show his commitment to his wife and God stating, 'With Heaven above and Faith below, I will stand firm against the devil!' (100) Immediately after his desperate bid for salvation, a thick, dark cloud coves the sky right over and only over Brown, denoting that his prayer has been obstructed and denied.
If his commitment to God and his sanity are not already destroyed after observing the certain nature of a few townspeople, the pink ribbon that falls to the ground instantly after hearing his wife scream from far away seals the deal with the devil. Brown cries that his Faith is gone, which can be true in two ways, faith in God and Faith, his wife. At once, Brown picks up the staff the devil leaves him and begins to run hysterically through the forest which alludes to Adam and Eve's everlasting exile of Eden as is Brown permanently leaving of his Puritan paradise. When Brown returns to the village the night after his life-altering experience, he sees the whole community involved in traditional activities as if nothing strange or extraordinary happened. These actions portray that all people are subconsciously tainted with evil and that no one is in favor of either side. On account of Brown's ill preparedness, spiritual immaturity, and false commitment to his faith in God, he never understands the duality of people as such as the townspeople, his wife, and more importantly, himself.
Due to his religious sophistication, or the lack thereof, he shows nothing but anger and remorse to all the townspeople he saw the night before. He never attempts to understand the predicament and gives up on everyone. Brown's torture at the end of the story is that he can see evil and in everyone else a lot more clearly than he can see in his own guilt-occupied conscious. By reason of his conscious, he erroneously believes that he is without sin. There is no doubt that Brown learns about evil in others during his trip in the forest, but furthermore, the forest portrays his own evil. However the forest experience, which is considered a dream, becomes real to him; therefore he cannot understand his own sin and conveys it onto others.
For example, Brown oversees Goody Cloyse teaching a little girl. Brown immediately snatches the little girl away from Cloyse as if he is snatching her away from the devil. Also, Brown's lackadaisical and dejected gestures on his face when he sees is wife and his attitude during church clearly show Brown's lack of self-disgust and his outward observance of the evil in others. The explanation of Young Goodman Brown's moral decline is that his faith and morals are surrendered to material things, mainly his wife and the townspeople.
When the townspeople succumb to the devil, Brown's faith and ideals also yield to them. However, he himself does not comprehend that he has forsaken God and been lured into the grasp of Satan. Also, Brown's lack of emotion indicates that he followed his mind, where the main conflict of the story is, instead of his heart. Due to his deficiency of compassion, he shows no grief for himself.
As a result, he becomes faithfully and publicly disengaged and dismisses himself from the community.