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Sample essay topic, essay writing: Young Goodman Brown - 1152 words
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Jesse WickEnglish 260The Downfall of Young Goodman Brown 'Young GoodmanBrown', by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a story that is thick withallegory. 'Young Goodman Brown' is a moral story which istold through the perversion of a religious leader. In 'YoungGoodman Brown', Goodman Brown is a Puritan ministerwho lets his excessive pride in himself interfere with hisrelations with the community after he meets with the devil,and causes him to live the life of an exile in his owncommunity. 'Young Goodman Brown' begins when Faith,Brown's wife, asks him not to go on an 'errand'. GoodmanBrown says to his 'love and (my) Faith' that 'this one night Imust tarry away from thee.' When he says his 'love' and his'Faith', he is talking to his wife, but he is also talking to his'faith' to God. He is venturing into the woods to meet withthe Devil, and by doing so, he leaves his unquestionable faithin God with his wife.
He resolves that he will 'cling to herskirts and follow her to Heaven.' This is an example of theexcessive pride because he feels that he can sin and meetwith the Devil because of this promise that he made tohimself. There is a tremendous irony to this promise becausewhen Goodman Brown comes back at dawn; he can nolonger look at his wife with the same faith he had before.When Goodman Brown finally meets with the Devil, hedeclares that the reason he was late was because 'Faith keptme back awhile.' This statement has a double meaningbecause his wife physically prevented him from being ontime for his meeting with the devil, but his faith to God ipsychologically delayed his meeting with the devil. The Devilhad with him a staff that 'bore the likeness of a great blacksnake'. The staff which looked like a snake is a reference tothe snake in the story of Adam and Eve. The snake ledAdam and Eve to their destruction by leading them to theTree of Knowledge
The Adam and Eve story is similar toGoodman Brown in that they are both seeking unfathomableamounts of knowledge. Once Adam and Eve ate from theTree of Knowledge they were expelled from their paradise.The Devil's staff eventually leads Goodman Brown to theDevil's ceremony which destroys Goodman Brown's faith inhis fellow man, therefore expelling him from his utopia.Goodman Brown almost immediately declares that he kepthis meeting with the Devil and no longer wishes to continueon his errand with the Devil. He says that he comes from a'race of honest men and good Christians' and that his fatherhad never gone on this errand and nor will he. The Devil isquick to point out however that he was with his father andgrandfather when they were flogging a woman or burning anIndian village, respectively. These acts are ironic in that theywere bad deeds done in the name of good, and it shows thathe does not come from 'good Christians.' When GoodmanBrown's first excuse not to carry on with the errand provesto be unconvincing, he says he can't go because of his wife,'Faith'. And because of her, he can not carry out the errandany further.
At this point the Devil agrees with him and tellshim to turn back to prevent that 'Faith should come to anyharm' like the old woman in front of them on the path.Ironically, Goodman Brown's faith is harmed because thewoman on the path is the woman who 'taught him hiscatechism in youth, and was still his moral and spiritualadviser.' The Devil and the woman talk and afterward,Brown continues to walk on with the Devil in the disbelief ofwhat he had just witnessed. Ironically, he blames the womanfor consorting with the Devil but his own pride stops himfrom realizing that his faults are the same as the woman's.Brown again decides that he will no longer to continue on hiserrand and rationalizes that just because his teacher was notgoing to heaven, why should he 'quit my dear Faith, and goafter her'. At this, the Devil tosses Goodman Brown his staff(which will lead him out of his Eden) and leaves him.Goodman Brown begins to think to himself about hissituation and his pride in himself begins to build. He'applauds himself greatly, and thinking with how clear aconscience he should meet his minister..And what calmsleep would be his..in the arms of Faith!' This is ironicbecause at the end of the story, he can not even look Faithin the eye, let alone sleep in her arms. As Goodman Brownis feeling good about his strength in resisting the Devil, hehears the voices of the minister and Deacon Gookin. Heoverhears their conversation and hears them discuss a'goodly young woman to be taken in to communion' thatevening at that night's meeting and fears that it may be hisFaith.
When Goodman Brown hears this he becomes weakand falls to the ground. He 'begins to doubt whether therereally was a Heaven above him' and this is a key point whenGoodman Brown's faith begins to wain. Goodman Brown inpanic declares that 'With Heaven above, and Faith below, Iwill yet stand firm against the devil!' Again, Brown makes apromise to keep his faith unto God. Then 'a black mass ofcloud' goes in between Brown and the sky as if to block hisprayer from heaven. Brown then hears what he believed tobe voices that he has before in the community. OnceGoodman Brown begins to doubt whether this is really whathe had heard or not, the sound comes to him again and thistime it is followed by 'one voice, of a young woman'.Goodman believes this is Faith and he yells out her nameonly to be mimicked by the echoes of the forest, as if hiscalls to Faith were falling on deaf ears.
A pink ribbon fliesthrough the air and Goodman grabs it. At this moment, hehas lost all faith in the world and declares that there is 'nogood on earth.' Young Goodman Brown in this scene iseasily manipulated simply by the power of suggestion. Thesuggestion that the woman in question is his Faith, andbecause of this, he easily loses his faith. Goodman Brownthen loses all of his inhibitions and begins to laugh insanely.He takes hold of the staff which causes him to seem to 'flyalong the forest-path'. This image alludes to that of Adamand Eve being led out of the Garden of Eden as is GoodmanBrown being led out of his utopia by the Devil's snakelikestaff. Hawthorne at this point remarks about 'the instinct thatguides mortal man to evil'.
This is a direct statement from theauthor that he believes that man's natural inclination is to leanto evil than good. Goodman Brown had at this point lost hisfaith in God, therefore there was nothing restraining hisinstincts from moving towards evil because he had been leadout from his utopian image of society. At this point,Goodman Brown goes mad and challenges evil. He feelsthat he will be t ...
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