Essay about “Young Goodman Brown”
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown”, Hawthorne presents a series of events to show how falling into temptation can change someone’s life forever. From Goodman Brown being a loving person to not caring about anyone including his own wife. Young Goodman Brown assumes nothing bad will happen which leads to his downfall. Hawthorne uses Young Goodman Brown to explain how temptation and curiosity can lead to consequences.
Young Goodman Brown makes a life altering decision and struggles to keep his wife Faith and his religion faith. Before entering the forest Goodman Brown has a strong faith and is very religious. The narrator presents the idea that Young Goodman Brown knows what he is doing is bad but does it anyway by saying “Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee”(Hawthorne 1). Before entering the forest Young Goodman Brown has a loving and caring wife along with a stable life. Foreshadowing that something bad is going to happen one critic says “At the beginning of the story Young Goodman Brown, a Puritan Everyman, leaves his dear wife Faith, clearly an allegorical figure herself, to meet Satan in the deep dark New England woods” (Moores). As Young Goodman Brown gets in the forest he starts having second thoughts. Goodman Brown even says “ I have scruples touching the matter thou wot’st of”(Hawthorne 2).
How it works
Temptation can a huge effect on your life and the people who care about you the most. Young Goodman Brown even struggles to leave his wife behind for a night not thinking anything bad would happen in which this reveals that temptation can get the best of you. Young Goodman Brown does not think anything will happen if he commits a sin. Goodman Brown says “and may you find all well when you come back” (Hawthorne 1) which foreshadows that something bad is going to happen. As he starts to enter the forest he begins to have second thoughts about leaving Faith behind. He even says “what a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand” (Hawthorne 1). Ultimley Goodman Brown is tempted to keep going by the characters he meets along the way. He even starts believing that all the people he meets are very religious people who persuade him into thinking what he is doing is the right thing. Meeting these religious people have a huge impact on the way Young Goodman Brown starts viewing people.
Goodman Brown struggles to decide if he should turn around and go home or keep going which reveals that he is having second thoughts about going. He starts hearing voices in his head in which he thinks it is his wife Faith that leads him into thinking he has made a huge mistake. Before he kept walking he said “having kept covenant by meeting thee here, it is my purpose now to return whence i came”(Hawthorne 2). Later on he chooses to keep going even though he knows it is bad for him. He even came to one point where he says “Too far! Too far! exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk”(Hawthorne 2). Young Goodman Brown even remembers he has scruples but still feels pressure to keep going. Goodman Brown is tempted to enter the forest but debates if he should keep going and finally decides to keep going.
Young Goodman Brown encounters many faithful people in which he starts having second thoughts but ends up baptizing himself to the devil. Goodman Brown assumes that he meets religious people which leads him to keep going. He finally makes it the meeting and thinks that all the religious people from his church are there to. He says “the deacons of many a church have drunk the communion wine with me”(Hawthorne 2). Young Goodman Brown starts to think this is not a bad idea after all and that everyone sins. Goodman Brown even attempts to resist, but can’t. One critic says “From a purely Western perspective, the snake represents Brown’s temptation, his test as to whether he will consciously embrace his good, white. Puritan self, or change his allegiance and give himself over to the Devil”(Moores).
He starts feeling pressure from some of the most faithful people he knew that this was a good idea. Goodman Brown starts having second thoughts after he thinks he hears his wife which reveals that he knows what he is doing is bad but does it anyway. Young Goodman Brown realizes that Faith is trying to tell him something. One critic even says “And it is out of this black cloud of doubt that the voice of his faith reaches him and the pink ribbon of his Faith falls”(Connolly). He eventually stops for a little bit debating if he should turn around or keep going. He even says “is that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith and go after her”(Hawthorne 4). Again his curiosity lead him to keep going but still has Faith on his mine. He even had the thought of turning around by saying “not another step will i budge on this errand”(Hawthorne 4).
He starts to think when he returns that he can just cling onto Faith and make it to heaven. One even said “Young Goodman Brown is certain that faith will help man get to heaven”(Connolly). This is a huge turning point in Young Goodman Brown’s life as it has a huge affect on his life later on. Goodman Brown believes that Faith has turned to the devil which leads him to go to a meeting to celebrate his sins. He believes that Faith has went to the devil which gives him motivation to keep going and attend the meeting. By thinking Faith has turned to the devil he starts to think that there is no good left. Korb says “There is no good on earth, Brown turns into a personification of the devil”(Korb). After this Young Goodman Brown decides to attend the meeting. The narrator says “at the word, Goodman Brown stepped from the shadow of the trees and approached the congregation…”(Hawthorne 6). At this point there is no turning back as he is about to attend the meeting. He starts to convert himself to the devil as he hears the words “welcome, my children, said the dark figure, to the communion of your race”(Hawthorne 6). Goodman Brown converts himself to the devil and is no longer human.
Young Goodman Brown gives up his faith and returns to Salem village with little to no faith that makes him forget everyone which reveals that he assumes the dream is real. Goodman Brown gives himself up to the devil which reveals he followed his temptation. When going back to the village nothing is the same, one even says “Browns physical return to Salem Village poses a number of problems”(Morsberger). Going to the devil changes the way Young Goodman Brown views life and is never able to live the same. He even says “Evil must be your only happiness”(Hawthorne 7). This indicates that he has changed into a completely different person and there is no going back. After giving himself up he is never able to regain his faith even when he returns. Goodman Brown returns back to the village not knowing anyone including his own wife assuming all this really happened. When returning to the village his wife is so excited to see him as he doesn’t even acknowledge her.
The narrator even says “But Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting”(Hawthorne 7). Goodman Brown does not act the same which causes him to lose many close people he was close to. Some believe it was all a dream that he assumes actually happened. The narrator says “Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting”(Hawthorne 8). This was all a dream but young Goodman Brown believes it is real. Goodman Brown loses everyone he is close to due to one bad choice. Goodman Brown loses his whole family over one bad decision. The narrator says “they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone”(Hawthorne 8). In this time this story can be compared to many people are tempted to do things so they do it one time and sometimes it can affect their life forever. One critic explains “One might compare him to the youth who thinks he will just once try drugs, prostitution or some sort of perversity just once”(Morsberger).
Young Goodman Brown loses the most important people in his life after making an assumption. The people he was closest to him eventually stopped caring for him. Temptation can lead to anything good or bad. Even though he tries to resist his temptation got the best of him. One critic says “Young Goodman Brown,which tells the story of a young Puritan drawn into a covenant with the devil, despite his attempts to resist”(Korb).
Curiosity and Temptation can change your life in a second. In Young Goodman Brown we learn that you should not make assumptions so quickly. Being grateful for what you have and not taking advantage of it. Temptation can lead you to losing some of the most important people in your life.