Young Goodman Brown: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Last Updated: 20 Jun 2022
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"Young Goodman Brown," was written in year of 1835 by Nathaniel Hawthorne, who is identified for being one of literature's most fascinating interpreters of seventeenth-century Puritan culture. A literary device is a method that creates a definite influence in writing. Literary devices are found all throughout Young Goodman Brown, such as theme, motif, and symbol. There are many different themes shown throughout the story of Young Goodman Brown. From the moment he enters the enigmatic forest, Young Goodman Brown expresses his fear of being there, and to him it is a place where nothing upright is probable.

Young Goodman Brown, similar to other Puritans, relates the forest with wild Indians and thinks he sees them hiding behind the trees. Young Goodman Brown has strong faith that evil could definitely exist in the woods. “Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness” (Hurley 1). Young Goodman Brown ultimately sees evil in himself, just as he had predicted. He believes of it as a matter of corruption that is not the tradition of his family and friends. They would certainly not have strolled in the forest by choice, and Young Goodman Brown is distraught when evil insists otherwise.

He is humiliated to be seen walking in the woods and hides when the minister and Deacon pass by. The woods are considered evil, scary, and gloomy, and Young Goodman Brown is at ease in the woods when he has given in to the devil. One of the motifs in the story of Young Goodman Brown is female purity. When Young Goodman Brown leaves Faith at the opening of the story, he promises that after this evening of devilish activities, he will grasp onto her skirts and soar to paradise.

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From the time and setting of this story, the idea was that a man’s wife or mother will convert him and prepare the work of true spiritual faith for the entire family was a popular one. Young Goodman Brown adheres to the impression of Faith’s purity during the course of his trials in the woods, blasphemy that as long as Faith rests holy, he can find it in himself to fight the devil. When Young Goodman Brown discovers that Faith is present at the service, it alters every one of his thoughts about what is moral or immoral in the universe, losing his power and capability to fight (Baym 1).

Female purity was an influential idea in Puritan New England, and men trusted on women’s faith to sustain on their own. When Faith’s purity is demolished in the eyes of Goodman Brown, he fails to fight evil and use his faith. One of the main symbols in this story is the pink ribbons that Faith places in her cap that signifies her purity. The color pink is linked with virtue, and ribbons are known as a modest and innocent embellishment. Hawthorne references Faith’s pink ribbons numerous times at the opening of the story, instilling her personality with youth and cheerfulness (Xian-Chun 2).

He reestablishes the ribbons when Young Goodman Brown is in the woods, contemplating with his uncertainties about the morals of people he is acquainted with. When the pink ribbon flies downward from the clouds, Young Goodman Brown distinguishes it as a symbol that Faith has absolutely dropped into the territory of evil; she has no mark of her purity or innocence (Xian-Chun 1). The color white also represents the idea of goodness and purity, while red represents twistedness and tainted ideas.

In the conclusion of the story, Faith meets Young Goodman Brown as he proceeds from the woods; she is wearing her pink ribbons yet again, signifying her return to the image of innocence she displayed at the opening of the story and casting away the uncertainties on the truth of Young Goodman Brown’s ventures (Xian-Chun 1). Williamson begins by stating, “Hawthorne's definition of a good author, he advises that Hawthorne deemed the best writers as those with a little devil in them” (Williamson 1).

Williamson proposes that in "Young Goodman Brown" there is a joining among the novelist and the evil spirit and the novelist/narrator is truly a follower of the evil spirit festivity (Williamson 1). He also composes that Brown really meets with the three evil spirits: the old man, Goody Cloyse, and the narrator. The narrator is the evil spirit in the story that he has the capability to make Brown and the person who reads identify evil abilities of the other characters (Williamson 1). Walter Shear shares that as Young Goodman Brown leaves Faith, he becomes an individual psychologically.

His retreat from his wife is not merely a representative loss of faith, but it is also his leaving behind conservative faith. In the woods, Brown's belief is lacking; therefore the familiar woods are frightening (Shear 1). He must struggle with the individuals in the woods in demand to keep his ethics and beliefs. It is him contrary to humanity and he is deceived by that very civilization. At the end, Young Goodman Brown departs the fantasy and proceeds to usual culture (Shear 1). He is more conscious of himself and of his connection with other participants of the culture. Shear states that Brown exemplifies the unbalanced Puritanism s it declines in its spiritual belief and becomes slightly deceitful. Brown's disgust of his wife and community signifies his own necessity to psychologically limit his motives for leading in the forest (Shear 1). Young Goodman Brown is entirely devastated and overwhelmed when he wakes from his nightmare. As he walked the streets of Salem he was not capable to isolate his vision from actuality. He is incapable to handle the findings that the possible for wicked exist in everyone. The rest of his lifetime is demolished because of his helplessness to express this reality and be aware of it.

The vision, has established the seed of uncertainty in Young Goodman Brown's mind, which subsequently takes him off from his related gentleman and leaves him unaccompanied and unhappy. The reality is that Young Goodman Brown loathes these individuals because he understands that identical traits in himself. Like the individuals in his vision, he questions his personal belief. However, he plants his personal worries onto those nearby him. The vision is a demonstration of all of the anxieties he has about himself and the selections he has made throughout his lifetime.

He is too full of pride to recognize his personal mistakes. His time finishes unaccompanied and depressed because he was not once capable to gaze at himself and understand that what he understood were everyone else's mistakes were his as well. He is entirely secluded from his culture. The literary devices deployed by Hawthorne throughout “Young Goodman Brown,” give the piece an effectiveness and life that it would not have otherwise. The devices of theme, motif, and symbolism are heavily used and extremely effective throughout the entire piece, making it understandable, relatable, and enjoyable for the reader.

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Young Goodman Brown: Nathaniel Hawthorne. (2017, Jan 24). Retrieved from

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