Faith Essay, Research Paper
“Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16). Goodman Brown did not have faith. He did not have religious faith nor faith in his fellow human beings in Salem. And because he didn’t have faith he was became vulnerable to the “flaming arrows of the evil one”. Goodman Brown like all of us has battles against the devil over our guilt, our sins, and our fears. And it is up to us to decide whether we will stand up to our demons or to succumb to it like Goodman Brown. Early on in the story we find out that the name of Goodman Brown’s wife is Faith. And she with her “pink ribbons” symbolizes innocence and purity. She also symbolizes religious faith as well as faith in one’s fellow human beings. When Goodman Brown is late getting to the forest he explains that his “Faith” kept him back which can be taken to meaning that his wife Faith kept him back as well as his religious faith. Also as he is leaving his wife Faith for the dark forest, he is also symbolically leaving behind his religious faith and his faith in his fellow human beings. He then enters the dark forest, which is a palette where the devil can paint images to cloud and tempt the faith of Goodman Brown. And in the forest he meets up with a second traveler, “about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank as Goodman Brown, and bearing considerable resemblance to him” (128). The second traveler is the devil. He carries with him a staff, “which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought that it might almost be seen to twist like a living serpent. The connection here is that according to the Bible, Satan in order to tempt Eve to devour the forbidden fruit of the Garden of Eden appeared in the form of a serpent. The devil tells him about how his grandfather and his father had done all these atrocities with the help of the devil. Upon hearing this Goodman Brown has lost faith in his father and grandfather. The devil then moves on to others that are significant in Goodman Brown’s life Goodman Brown is being made to believe that everyone is inherently evil and that their piousness is only a façade for their covert interactions with the devil. He imagines himself seeing Goody Cloyse, an influential spiritual advisor that taught him his catechism cavorting with the devil. He is seeing what he wants to see. The devil is making all his sub-conscious suspicions come alive in this venture into the dark forest. He is being made to suspect everyone, his grandfather, father, the minister, Deacon Gookin, the Indians, and even his wife Faith. When Goodman Brown finds the pink ribbons of Faith, he fears that she too has succumbed to the evil congregation. He responds by crying, “My Faith is gone” (132). Again this has multiple meanings because after seeing all the pious and godly figures of his town turned to evil he has lost faith in the all the inhabitants of his world except his Faith and now they’ve got her too. Then he loses his religious faith too as he grabs the serpent-like staff and races through the forest and “giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy” (132). Finally, Goodman Brown reaches the wicked assembly. The area is described as a “lurid blaze”(132), which is a slight reference to fire and evil of hell. And in this quasi-reality he finds himself approaching the congregation preparing to be converted. This whole scene where he and Faith are about to be baptized in sin is symbol of Goodman Brown’s skepticism in organized religion. For he compared this contrasting ceremony to that of his own faith and saw how similar it was to this wicked occult. After this incident and upon returning to reality, Goodman Brown became distrustful because he felt that everyone had let him down because he saw all of them partake in the wicked witch meeting the night before. But the whole night was conjured up by the devil to deceive Brown into thinking that the whole town was evil. And because of this Brown was wary of Faith ever since. He became distrustful of Faith his wife and also his religious faith as well as his faith in his fellow human beings. Brown in the end was not able to defend himself from the barrage of ” flaming arrows of the evil one” and his “shield” was not strong enough.