Alexandria Harris Mrs. Thompson Eng. 101 TR. 10:15-12:15 Good vs. Evil the Moral Flaws in Young Goodman Brown In Salem, Massachusetts religion was very prominent in the 1700s, especially during the Salem Witch Trials. Salem, Massachusetts was known for the numerous witch trials, and the persecutions. Many people were accused for practicing witchcraft, being bewitched, and for making covenants with the devil. Nathaniel Hawthorne introduces Goodman Brown as a newlywed husband who is going to embark on a tedious journey into the forest. This journey into the forest was to meet the Devil, and to establish a covenant with him.
As he travels, Brown is faced whether to go against his morals, beliefs, and religion. Goodman Brown realizes not everything is what it seems, and he learns about the true morality of the people around him. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Nathaniel Hawthorne reveals the common differences between good versus evil, and the weakness of public morality, As the story begins we meet Goodman Brown, and his newly wed wife Faith. The couple is talking about the journey Brown is going to take, and Faith is trying to convince him to stay until the morning to travel into the forest.
Faith then tells Goodman that “A lone woman is troubled with suck dreams and such thoughts that she’s afraid of herself sometimes. ” When Faith says that it is to let Brown know that she is scared to be alone at night, nor does she want him to tarry off to the forest at the moment. She would rather him stay with her so that she can feel safe, secured, and unharmed. Brown assures her that everything is okay, and that it is going to be a one nigh endeavor. Goodman clings on to this idea of Faith as he starts his journey into the forest. He hopes that as long as Faith stays holy, he can somehow find himself to resist the devil.
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Goodman Brown feels that the good in Faith’s heart will keep him making irrational decisions. The good that is in faith is shown so that Goodman can travel without worrying about her. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses Goodman’s wife Faith to represent her purity as a woman. In the 1700s, a pure woman was the best thing in the world. If the woman was pure it made her worth more than anything that an impure woman could offer. Brown states that “she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven. Hawthorne is trying to convey that even though Brown has done wrong in his life Faith’s purity could save him from a life of sin. It was known in these times that the men would leave the family for religious purposes. Faith’s purity brings the well-being out of Goodman Brown because he knows that he can’t go wrong with her. Brown realizes that her purity is what keeps him in line, and it is why he insists on remaining good. If he remains on this path, remembers the purity of Faith, and resist wrong doing then he can remain faithful to his religion.
The ribbons that Faith puts on her hat also represent her purity. The color pink is often used when newborn baby girls are born to symbolize that they are young, innocent, and pure. As little girls get older they tend to like this color more than the rest. Pink is used frequently to show the feminine side of girls, and how they are different from boys. The pink ribbons are associated with innocence and modesty. Faith is considered pure because at the beginning she shows to Goodman that she doesn’t want him to leave her alone. The newly wed wife would rather have her husband around her than him travel afar.
Hawthorne mentions the ribbons several times in the beginning, and this states her youthfulness as well as her happiness. Traveling into the forest is when the tone shifts from innocent and kindhearted to gloomy and melancholy. Angie Sole states that, “Goodman Brown’s experience in the dark, evil forest correlated and would have been recognized by Puritans as a symbol of mistrust of their own corrupt hearts and faculties. ” Soler says this because it represents the deceit, and the darkness of man’s heart. Brown walking into the forest that was gloomy, dark, and the shadows he saw were fighting him.
Brown felt like he couldn’t trust the figures because they were deceiving him by their looks. The evil in the story the forest was just like the evil in all the movies, and in the plots of story books. Going into a dark forest doesn’t symbolize anything good. Being in the forest, Brown knew he couldn’t trust his own self, nor could he trusts his desires to keep from doing wrong. The forest with all its evil, deceit, and darkness shows Brown that he doesn’t need to follow in to the path of evil. As Brown travels deeper into the forest, a man who informs him that he is late approaches him.
The second traveler with Brown is much older than he is, and Hawthorne describes him to be “Considerable resemblance to him, though perhaps more features still they have been taken for father and son. ” This is because they looked alike in similar ways. Older man carried a rod hat resembled “A great black snake. ” This snake is the significance in the story because it is known for being a deceiver. In the Old Testament, the snake deceived Eve into eating the fruit from the Forbidden tree. The snake lay to Eve and Adam because the snake was sneaky, mischievous, and deceitful.
This is why Eve was easily persuaded to the fruit. Another “rod/snake” reference is when Moses was trying to convince Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go. When meeting with Pharaoh, Moses casted out his rod, and it turned into a snake. Hawthorne describes the rod in the story as like it was somewhat alive. The snake represents the common evil Brown face throughout the story. Hawthorne uses the weakness of morality throughout the story. This shows how Brown was ashamed of what he was doing as well as what the people around him were doing.
Going in the forest is when Brown recognizes the familiar faces. He notices the minister, deacon Gookin, and Good Cloyse traveling into the forest as well. As they are walking, Brown quickly throws his staff, and goes out of sight. It was as if he vanished into the deepening of darkness. Hiding behind the tree, Brown is staying out of sight of the three Salem church members. Making sure that the familiar people of town Brown uses the branches to hide do not see him. He didn’t want as much as a shadow of him to be seen, and while he was hiding Brown begins to pray.
As he praying the atmosphere changes, and the clouds start to shift. The Brown hears the indistinct voices laughing, and conversing among each other. This is when he notices something floating in the sky, and this is when he realizes that is its Faith’s pink ribbon. Goodman Brown proclaims “My Faith is gone! There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil1 for to thee is this world given. ” He says this in spite of the possibility of Faith being in harm’s way. Faith being alive is how Brown was so comfortable with making this journey to speak with the Devil.
Her being safe, secures, and out of harm’s way is what made the trip easier, and he used her faith to allow him to resist into temptation. Brown begins to continue walking at a faster pace because he wants the journey to be over with. Getting closer to his destination he comes across an open space that has poles lit up with fire, and this is followed by the thunderous cry of people chanting hymns. Brown comes to the space, and he notices some of the Salem towns people were there too/ He see the minister, Deacon Gookin, and Goody Cloyse, but Faith is nowhere to be found.
Brown is confused with what he is seeing. There were two figures that were vaguely noticeable, but Brown thinks they are his parents. Nether the less, he was seized by the arms by the minister and the deacon. They start walking him to the blazing rock where he sees the unveiled. The morality of the people had been changed because Goodman Brown thought all the people were of one faith when they weren’t. The people all walk to the middle of the open space, and the woman who was wearing the veil followed them. A voice begins to speak and this is led to believe that it is the Devil.
He calls everyone to attention letting the people know that things are about to come to order. The woman under the veil then reveals herself, and she is no other than Faith. Brown realized that she is a part of the demonic meeting he speaks to her and says “Look up to the heaven, and resist the Wicked one. ” Brown feels that Faith shouldn’t go down the path that he was going down. Since Faith is believed to be the only pure soul in his life, and he wants her to stay in that shape, form, and fashion Regardless of the temptation that she is faced he wants her to resist it.
Brown returns to the Salem village the next morning with a new perspective about everyone. The people surrounding him seemed to be coming off as unrealistic, and this is when he starts to think that everything is not supposed to happen. Goodman feels that not only were his morals changed, but the people around him did too. Their morals, beliefs, and religions have changed because before he went into the forest. Brown felt that he was the only one doing wrong, but until he goes into the forest is when he sees the true nature of the people.
Hawthorne reveals man weakness to their moral, religion, and beliefs could easily be different... Hawthorne shows that the holiest man could very well be a sinner. Not one man is subjected to being holier than the other. Brown saw the further he went into the forest the more vulnerable to following into evil. Once Faith sees Goodman Brown she runs up to him with joy of knowing that he returned without being harmed. After being in that forest for a night, Brown could not decipher what was right, and he could not tell if what he was seeing was wrong.
Being release from Faith’s embracing hug he can not look at her the same. The look was so stern, and sadly given to her, that he passed her without even acknowledging her with a proper greeting. Her female purity was once sacred to Goodman Brown, and he felt that if she kept her faith he too could to right in his life. With the feeling of being deceived, lied to , and bamboozled her purity is no longer void, and it dissolves into nonexistence. Goodman’s innocence left him as he began the journey into the forest, but doing this made him feel corrupted beyond reasons explainable.
This shows that everything Brown has seen could very much be a figment of his imagination. In conclusion, Goodman Brown sees that there is more than meet the eye, and that no man is far from sin. Nathaniel Hawthorn shows that your faith may betray you, but it is also the truth of a waking experience. In this short story Hawthorne uses the differences of good versus evil, and the weakness of morality to convey how people were in the 1700s. By using Goodman Brown, he was able to show the understanding of sin, and to let go of world dependence, and to strive for the life without sin.
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