The Downfall Of Young Goodman Brown Nathaniel Hawthorne was a descendant of Puritan immigrants who dedicated his life to writing. It was through his short story "Young Goodman Brown" that Hawthorne uses it to explain Young Goodman Brown's excessive pride. This excessive pride interferes with the relationship of his wife Faith and the community, which ultimately causes Young Goodman Brown's downfall. "Young Goodman Brown" sets up his journey that his wife asks him to "pr'y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in his own bed to-night" (Hawthorne 614).
However, Goodman Brown tells Faith "of all nights in the year, this one night must tarry away from thee" (614). The first sign of excessive pride is when Goodman Brown leaves his loving wife and goes on the journey that he does not know what to expect when he told her he would "cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven." Goodman Brown let his wife down because of his journey. This journey led him directly to the Devil who was the first person Goodman Brown met. Goodman Brown did not know this man was the Devil, therefore, he followed his every lead. The Devil leads Goodman Brown down a "dreary road" that made Goodman Brown skeptical. Goodman Brown was afraid a devilish Indian would be in the woods when all along the Devil was walking beside of him.
Goodman Brown did not know this because he was so curious to see everything the journey had in store for him. However, the Devils journey was already working because Goodman Brown had left his newlywed wife to go with the Devil. Ironically, the Devil knew Goodman Brown was going on the journey because he showed up fifteen minutes late and brought it to his attention. Then, Goodman Brown lied on Faith and said she kept him back awhile (614).
However, Faith physically kept him from being on time for his meeting with the Devil, but it was his faith in God that psychologically delayed his meeting. On the other hand, Goodman Brown should have known something was wrong when the Devil greeted him with a snakelike staff. This staff was a sign of evil because of its reference in the Adam and Eve story. A snake is what led Adam and Eve to their destruction from the Tree of Knowledge, which is similar to Goodman Brown because they both were seeking an unknowing understanding amount of knowledge. Once Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge they were expelled from their paradise. Eventually, the Devil's staff will lead Goodman Brown to the Devil's ceremony, destroying his faith, and expelling him from his utopia.
However, Goodman Brown suspects something is wrong and no longer wants to continue his journey. But, the Devil is smart and will not let him quit so quickly. Goodman Brown proclaims he came from a "race of honest men and Christians" and that his father would have never gone on this journey. Needless to say, the Devil is quick to point out he was with his father and grandfather when they were flogging a woman or burning an Indian village (615).
These acts were ironic because they were bad deeds done in good faith, but the Devil used them to convince Goodman Brown he did not come from "good Christians." This was a ploy to get Goodman Brown to lose his faith and follow the Devil. Furthermore, Goodman Brown's first excuse to stop the journey was not convincing, so he tried again and the Devil pretended to buy it. Goodman Brown said he could not continue the journey because he did not want his wife Faith to come to any harm (616). The devil agreed he should turn back, but used the excuse against him.
The Devil showed Goodman Brown the woman "who had taught his catechism in youth, and was still his moral and spiritual adviser" was on the journey (Hawthorne 616). This was ultimately the beginning of Goodman Brown's damaged faith. After the Devil and the woman talk, Goodman Brown continues to walk with the Devil in the disbelief of what he has just witnessed. Ironically, he blames the woman for conversing with the Devil but his pride stops him from realizing his own faults are the same as the woman's. Once again Goodman Brown decides he will no longer continue his journey and rationalizes that just because his teacher was not going to heaven, why should he "quit my dear Faith, and go after her." Goodman Brown has good intentions but the Devil know exactly what to use against him to change his mind.
This time the Devil throws Goodman Brown the snakelike staff and leaves him alone while "applauding himself greatly" for making a stand (617). Goodman Brown thinks about his situation and his pride begins to rise. "With heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!" (618). As Goodman Brown is feeling good about himself; he hears voices of the minister and deacon Gook in. He overhears the discussion that "there is a goodly young woman to be taken into communion" and the meeting and fears it may be Faith (618). Goodman Brown declares "With Heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!" (618).
Again, he makes a promise to keep his faith unto God. Then "a black mass of cloud" goes between Goodman Brown and the sky as if to block his prayer from heaven as he hears what sounds like the voices in the community. The sound comes to him again and it is followed a young woman's voice (618). Goodman Brown believes the voice is Faith and yells out her name, letting the echoes of the forest mock him.
Then a pink ribbon like the one Faith is wearing flies in the air. At this point, Goodman Brown loses his faith in the world and declares there is "no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil! for to thee is this world given" (619). Goodman Brown is so angry that he challenges evil. This is another example of his excessive pride because he thinks he can conquer evil and overcome it. Also, it suggests that the woman is his faith, and because she is on the journey, he loses his faith.
He takes hold of the snakelike staff that causes him to "fly along the forest path." This is an example of how Adam and Eve is led out of the Garden of Eden and Goodman Brown is led out of his utopia by the snake like staff. He has lost all faith in God and there is nothing to stop him from moving forward with toward evil because his utopian image of the community has disappeared. Thence, Goodman Brown comes upon a ceremony and takes notice of the faces he sees. He recognizes all of them, but he does not see Faith.
He hopes Faith will not be there so he will not have to live alone in the community. However, he fails to realize he is already apart of the community. The ceremony begins with a cry to "Bring forth the converts!" (620). Goodman Brown steps forward and does not have the power to stop. He appears to be in a trance and he loses control of his body as he is unconsciously entering this service of converts to the devil. Then, the leader of the service addresses the crowd of converts in a disturbing manner.
He informs them that all the members of the congregation are the righteous, honest, and incorruptible of the community. The sermon leader informs the crowd of their leader's evil deeds such as adultery, blasphemy, and attempted murder. After this sermon, the leader informs them to look upon each other and Goodman Brown finds himself face to face with Faith. The leader declares that "Evil is the nature of mankind" and he welcomes the converts to "communion of your race." This statement is a reflection of the irony referred to about "a race of honest men and good Christians." The ceremony ends as Goodman Brown snaps out of his trance and yells for Faith.
He does not know if Faith has kept her faith, but he finds himself alone spiritually and physically. Throughout the story of "Young Goodman Brown", Goodman Brown lacks the emotion of a normal person except when "a hanging twig, that had been all on fire, besprinkled his cheek with the coldest dew." The dew represents a tear that he is unable to produce because of his lack of emotion. It is said Hawthorne shows that Goodman Brown has "no compassion for the weaknesses he sees in others, no remorse for his own sin, and no sorrow for his loss of faith." (Hawthorne 595) This shows how Goodman Brown chose to follow his head instead of his heart. If he had followed his heart, he may have kept his faith, wife, and had dignity about the community.
Finally, Goodman Brown ends his journey by returning to the community before early dawn. He cannot believe he is in the same place he was the night before. No longer did he consider this home. He felt as if he was an outsider in a world of Devil worshippers. And because his "basic means of order, religious system, is absent, the society he was familiar with becomes nightmarish." (Walcutt 341) He comes back to town "projecting his guilt onto those around him." (Crew 114) He expresses his discomfort with his new surroundings and his excessive pride when he takes a child away from a blessing given by his former teacher. He is so exemplified with anger that he passes by Faith who is excited to see him without greeting her.
Goodman Brown could not stand to look at Faith because of the service. Needless to say, his excessive pride leads him to feel he is better than everyone else even though he was at the Devil's service. Although no one is certain if this story was factual or a dream, it shows how a person's life can be destroyed because of stupidity or lack of knowledge. If Goodman Brown had accepted the obstacles that were thrown at him and overcome God's tests, he would not have lost his faith and the people who cared about him the most. Work-Cited Crew, Frederick. The Sins of the Fathers.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966, 114. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown", The Story and Its Writer, 4 th ed. Ed. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford Books of St.
Martin's Press, 1995, 595-604. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown", The Norton Anthology, 5 th ed. New York: Norton and Company, 1999, 613-622. Walcutt, Charles Child.
Seven Novelists in the American Naturalist Tradition. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1963, 341.