Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

Essay by MccaddenSucksUniversity, Bachelor's September 2004

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By Lee A. Zito

Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, Young Goodman Brown, is certainly an eerie tale. Hawthorne's main character, Goodman Brown has a symbolically filled dream in which the whole town he lives in are actually devil worshipers. As Brown journeys through his dream, the reader follows along as he runs into various conflicts in which the reader must decifer what their symbolic intent was according to Hawthorne.

The story begins with Brown about to set off on his journey. He will be leaving behind his wife, who's name is Faith. This symbolizes Brown leaving his "Faith" by going on this journey in the first place. Faith does not wish for her husband's journey to take place, even suggesting for him to postpone it. Brown however refuses to stay at home.

Moving through dark, mysterious woods Brown has a run in with an old man. This man symbolically represents the devil.

It is he, who Brown has bargained with by agreeing to accompany him on this journey. As the two men journey, the old man tells Brown that his ancestors were into black magic and were ultimately hypocrites. Brown is greatly disturbed upon hearing this, but continues on with this journey.

It is then revealed to Brown that his whole villiage are devil worshippers, as he hears two towns people discussing their evil ceremony that awaits Brown. Brown finally is at attendance, and all the people of his villiage are there as well. Brown fearfully begins to pray, but stops as a black cloud forms. This could symbolically show Brown that evil is all around him, and that praying will be impossible. The devil worshippers urge Brown and his wife to join them, but he continues to look toward the heavens.

Suddenly the story continues with Brown at home. The...