Young Goodman Brown

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade November 2001

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Thoughts and expressions have not always been free of censorship. Often, symbolism and allegory are used to mask the actual meaning of an author's work, which may be too provocative or radical for the time or place. This disguised writing leads the reader to various possible interpretations of the story. The reader must then examine the symbols and allegories to come to an understanding of the work and its intended meaning and moral.

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" we see such ambiguity. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts and was all too familiar with its strict puritan past. In "Young Goodman Brown" he wanted to express the great amounts of pressure that is put upon a puritan man who tries to live as the church dictates. Living such a restricted life can cause the mind to wander and often become curious about what lies beyond the parameters of such a constrictive religion.

Through his use of the period's vernacular and complex descriptions Hawthorne intensely portrays Goodman Brown's psychological battle between his firm beliefs in the church and the temptation which lies outside the communities boundaries. This brings the reader to clearly comprehend the situation Young Goodman Brown is experiencing. Although this story was written over a century ago in 1835, it tells the timeless tale of mans struggle between good and evil; bringing light to mans instinctive curiosity to that which has been dubbed sinful.

At the opening of the story Young Goodman Brown has made the conscious decision to kiss his "Faith" goodbye. He had fallen prey to the temptation of the unknown. This would be a journey that would forever change his life.

Brown begins his voyage into the woods on the darkest and gloomiest of paths, suggesting the guilt involved with a decision...