The short story “Young Goodman Brown”, written by an outstanding author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a remarkable literary work, the zest of which lies in the inimitable beauty of the prose that is masterfully created by the writer with the help of deep philosophic symbolism of the image of the hero of the narrative. The protagonist of the short story, Goodman Brown, is a generalized allegoric image of the common person of erring and false Puritan society that is doomed to unhappy misanthropic existence because of the distorted picture of world presented by the religious doctrine.
specifically for you
for only $16.05 $11/page
In the first place, it is necessary to prove that the character of Goodman Brown is generalized allegoric image. This may be proved, first of all, by the choice of his name. Though the readers do not know the time when the action of the story takes place, we know the exact place of action that is suggested by the very first line of the story, “Salem village” (Hawthorne 7). Thus, the time of action may be approximately stated, it is the 17th century, the period of trials connected with witchcraft. “Goodman” may be interpreted in two ways, literary as the title of a man typical of the historical period that may be equated with “Mister”, and figuratively, it represents “a good man”, a person who may be characterized by the idealistic concept of life based entirety on goodness of humanity and human society. In this case, absence of name is the proof of generalization of the character. Besides, the last name, Brown, is one of the most widespread last names in America. Thus, Goodman Brown stands for the whole human society, as it sated by Leslie: “Goodman Brown … is Everyman” (par. 3).
In the second place, Goodman Brown is the representative of erring Puritan views. The Puritan religious doctrine is unjust and distorted in itself that may be proved by the following controversy: Puritans consider themselves to be pure, decent, and pious, while they teach that evil is in human nature. This is why the world outlook of young people appears to be hopelessly distorted. This is why Brown says: We are a people of prayer, and good works, to boot, and abide no such wickedness (Hawthorne 13). This is his life position, he is blind as a beetle, and he is idealistic and unprepared to face the reality. For this reason the Devil’s words:
I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans … I helped your grandfather… And it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot … They were my good friends, both (Hawthorne 12).
make a destroying influence on the protagonist. For so many years he has been deluded and he is unable to overcome the news now.
In the third place, it should be proved that Puritan morality made cripples out of normal people. This may be observed by the example of the finale of the short story, the formation of misanthropic attitude of the protagonist towards society. All attempts of the main character to prove that he does not belong to his sinful surrounds ruin his personality and his relationship with near and dear people: “on the Sabbath-day …he could not listen [to psalm]”, “When the minister spoke from the pulpit … then did Goodman turn pale”, “awakening suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith” (Hawthorne 35). Besides, it is Puritan doctrine again, that should be blamed for the hero’s failure, for it hyperbolizes the human sins, making them the dominating parts of human soul: “There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name” (Hawthorne 23). If only the protagonist knew that evil nature may be conquered by the willpower of a person and his aspiration to be good, he could have survived. Unfortunately, it was impossible in puritan society. This accounts for his interpretation of the night events as the true events, instead of a dream. This is the proof of the protagonists doom to spiritual death.
In conclusion, it should be stated that the symbols and allegories of the story serve to convince the readers that Puritan society was full of evil and delusion. The example of Goodman Brown, thus, is employed by the author in order to emphasize general pattern of society. The individual failure of a person creates allegoric image of the decrease of the whole society.
100% original paper
on any topic
done in as little as
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Rockville: Wildside Press LLC, 2005.
McCabe, Michael, Shoemaker, Jacqueline, Gregory, Leslie, and Angie Soler. Nathaniel Hawthorne “Young Goodman Brown”. 1998. Web.