Nathaniel Hawthorn: Young Goodman Brown-Faith

Essay by laughj80College, UndergraduateB+, April 2012

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Losing Faith

Nathaniel Hawthorne's, "Young Goodman Brown" is a short story that takes place at sunset in Salem where Goodman Brown is about to go on a journey into the forest. As he is saying goodbye to his wife, Faith, while she begs him not to go and to just stay with her. Before Goodman Brown's journey, Hawthorne indicates that there is more to faith than just the name when he says, "He looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons" (100). As the story progresses, we see that Faith is the center theme of Hawthorne's story; it symbolizes man's fundamental and instinctive attraction to evil and how understanding one's faith can destroy a man.

Goodman Brown's story takes place at night in Salem in the nineteenth century, where there is a high population of Puritans. He is headed to the forest to fufill an, "evil purpose" (Hawthorne 101). At first, landscape is described as, "a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest" (101). Once Goodman Brown meets with a mysterious man, who tempts him to come deeper into the forest with him, the landscape becomes, "lonely as could be" (101). In the nineteenth century, the forest viewed as a place of evil, which explains Hawthorne's description of the, "innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead" (101). The darkness and gloominess portrays how the Puritans viewed the forest as a place where evil acts occurred. A forest's tree trunks and their leaves block its inhabitants from the outside world altogether; the trees are hiding the sinful acts. Young Goodman Brown realizes that the further he goes into the forest by following this man, who resembles the devil, the farther away from Faith...