, Research Paper
In Hawthorne s Young Goodman Brown, the characters and settings are used to show allegory. The characters and setting are used in metaphor to represent something else. The whole story of Young Goodman Brown, represents the journey of everyman. It s path that everyone follows, or so Hawthorne seems to believe.
The main character, Young Goodman Brown represents the sense of everyone. His last name, Brown, is a common name and therefore could be taken to mean everyone because it is so common. Young could mean someone who is innocent and inexperienced. He is newly married and starting his new life or journey down that path we call fate. Goodman represents just that, a good man.
Faith, Goodman Brown s wife, represents just that, faith. She stands for Brown s faith in god or a greater power than himself. There was a scream, drowned immediately in a louder murmur of voices, fading into far-off laughter, as the dark cloud swept away, leaving the clear and silent sky above goodman Brown. But something fluttered down through the air, and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it and beheld a pink ribbon. My Faith is gone! cried he, after one stupefied moment. There is no good on earth; and sin so but a name. Come devil! for to thee is this world given. (Hawthorne 196) The ribbon Brown seized from the branch was one of the things Hawthorne had used to describe Faith in the beginning of the story. Brown apparently lost Faith when he lost his faith in god represented by the ribbon falling through the air.
The traveler represents the devil. But the only thing about him, that could be fixed upon as remarkable was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself, like a living serpent. This of course, must have been an ocular deception, assisted by the uncertain light. (Hawthorne 192) The devil is like a serpent, or is represented as a serpent in the story of Genesis. The serpent is sneaky and deceiving. Friend, said the other, exchanging his slow pace for a full stop, having kept covenant by meeting thee here, it is my purpose now to return whence I came. I have scruples, touching the matter thou wot st of. Sayest thou so? replied he of the serpent, smiling apart. Let us walk on, nevertheless, reasoning as we go, and if I convince thee not, thou shalt turn back. We are little way in the forest, yet. Too far, too far! exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. (Hawthorne 192) The traveler tricked Brown into proceeding with the journey without knowing he was continuing. The traveler acted as the devil or a serpent by being sneaky and got him to continue the journey.
The setting of the dark forest represents the devil s home. It s a place where one would picture the devil living because of the darkness. It is a place where very few would normally travel very deep into. The forest is like sin. The farther Goodman Brown goes into the forest the more he is apt to loosing his faith.
Hawthorne s story of Young Goodman Brown represents the path of life and how everyone that travels down this path meets evil along the way. My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians, since the days of the martyrs. And shall I be the first of the name Brown, that ever took this path, and kept – Such company, thou wouldst say, observed the elder person, interpreting his pause. Good, goodman Brown! I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and that s no trifle to say. I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem. And it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in king Phillip s war. They were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path and returned merrily after midnight. I would fain be friends with you, for their sake. (Hawthorne 192) The reference to Brown s ancestors shows that he is not the only one who has taken this path. It shows that even the people he would never have suspected to take the same path as him actually have to his surprise. These people are just the everyday person showing everyone will take the journey of life and all will be tempted by evil. But even though some might lose their faith, the can still get it back. This is shown in reference to where Hawthorne threw in that it might have just been a dream. Had goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest, and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting? (Hawthorne 199) this only shows that even though Goodman brown was tempted by evil and may have lost his faith, he also had later gotten it back.7
Hawthorne, Natheniel. Young Goodman Brown. The Norton Introduction to
Literature. 7th ed. Eds. Jorome Beaty and J. Paul Hunter. New York: Norton, 1998.