Young Goodman Brown is a well-known short story written by an outstanding American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. This story is considered to be deeply psychological and grabs readers’ attention by its symbolism and imaginative expression; the author managed to reflect the contradictory world of the good and evil humanity sides. It is a life story of gradual human change making the character perceive the world and his existence differently. Young Goodman Brown refers to the greatest works of the world literature due to its expressiveness and emotionality reflected through the characters’ behavior and story events.
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There is a tendency to believe that the story is aimed at exploration of social and psychological effects of character’s guilty knowledge. The protagonist of the story, Brown, is completely secure and self-confident in the knowledge of the world having the nature he believes in. The introduction of the Devil was used to change moral makeup of the character and his perception of surrounding people and the world in general.
“There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil; for to thee is this world is given.” (Hawthorne, 1835).
The story under analysis is very interesting due to its symbolism. For example, the name of Brown’s wife being Faith is considered to be symbolically expressed through the author’s aspect of human faith lost by the protagonist. The author managed to embody Brown’s faith in humanity and God in the Brown’s wife who is presented as a tangible symbol of character’s faith.
“Well, she’s a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven” (Hawthorne, 1835).
When Brown refers to his wife, he indirectly addresses his faith in life; she is personified through Brown’s childhood and immature innocence. Nevertheless, the author shows gradual growth of Brown’s inner world and his consciousness. He tends to realize the things being beyond understanding earlier.
“My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him…shall I be the first of the name of Brown, that ever took this path” (Hawthorne, 1835).
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The experience got by Brown brought him much disappointment; it was disappointment in people and in the world. It is connected with the fact that Brown came to self-realization. He understood that he was sinful as well as all people surrounding him, the realization of this personal nature opened him to another world of evil. He came to the point he hated a lot; that case changed his personal moral makeup turning it from optimistic and enthusiastic into hardened and jaded. His new nature made him perceive people differently; it was a deep and significant experience for Brown making him realize the reality he lives in.
“Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting.” (Hawthorne, 1835).
Such considerations made by the character result in life despair and cynical and loveless future life of Brown. (Paey, 2006).
Short story Young Goodman Brown relates to significant psychological works of literature. It is a thought-provoking and sophisticated description of human inner development and moral formation. The story discloses the case of disappointing experiences faced by every person in life. It is important to stress that the story is rather pessimistic though it is close to life and involves the readers in the contradictory world of good and evil.
Paey, Stephanie. Symbolism and Human Nature in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown. 2006.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. 1835. Web.