, Research Paper
A view of Young Goodman Brown
The story Young Goodman Brown is about a man and his faith in himself, his wife, and the community they reside in. Goodman Brown must venture on a journey into the local forest refuse the temptations of the devil and return to the village before sunrise. The time era is approximately a generation after the time of the witch trials.
Goodman Brown’s struggle between the evil temptations, the devil, and the proper church abiding life, is a struggle he does not think he can face. He reiterates his false confidence to himself repeatedly. This characteristic of Goodman Brown is similar to the life lead by the author Nathaniel Hawthorne, one of self-doubt. Nathaniel Hawthorne was an unhappy person his entire life, never satisfied with his accomplishments.
Goodman knowns what he must do but dreads the deed. Apon entering the forest he is suspicious of every rock and tree, thinking something evil will jump out at him. When he finally does meet someone on the trail, who appears to be of evil origin, he feels confident that he can refuse any temptations. This evil person makes several advances and Goodman refuses. This makes Goodman feel strong until they meet his childhood catechism teacher and see her turned. This act deters his confidence to a great degree. He continues down the trail looking for hope in the heavens but hears only howling voices. Goodman eventually reaches his destination and sees the rest of the community there participating in satanic acts. When he sees this it destroys any faith he might of had in the community or himself and he appears to give-up. The following morning he finds himself in the forest and wonders what happened the previous night. Whether the scenes he witnessed were real or his imagination, he believes what he remembers and trusts no-one in the village, not even his wife. Goodman lives the rest of his years a miserable and distrusting man.
The lead character is happy with the locals and his faith until his trip, when he is convinced they are all evil. Apon this discovery he, in a sense, becomes evil. Whether he actually meets satin, and the community is evil or he fell asleep and tricked himself, he turns out suspecting everyone.
The author tells in the end that Goodman is distrustiing after his journey, so he either did met the devil or fell asleep. The story seems to lean toward him meeting the devil in person. If Goodman had dreamt the entire trip the author would have probably described his anxiety with more detail in the beginning. This would have allowed the reader to believe that events were not real.
When Goodman comes back he thinks he is better than the rest and judges everyone instantly. He then comes to the conclusion that he is the only person that is not a devil worshiper. Just as before with the witch trials, he is judging them as the so-called witches were judged by his ancestors. A reference to Martha Carrier is made is the story, Goodman’s predicament is similar to hers. She was isolated from the community because of her beliefs just like Goodman. The difference is that Martha’s community isolated her, and Goodman felt isolated or isolated himself.
The views and beliefs of the people of that era were if anything to an extreme. Whatever they believed they worshipped with a vengeance. This extreme faith can be compared to the current time “Career Goal.” If the people of today can not pursue a career and succeed, they feel as if their life has no meaning. This most likely has its roots from the protestant work ethic. The ethic, in general, says that you must work hard to please God and compete for a place in heaven. This story is about such people. The modern day person has taken this work ethic and given it a greedy twist. People of today fight for position, status or power just as much as the pioneer puritans worshiped and studied the bible. The puritans would take the word of bible as the word, without interpretation, only translation by the minister of the community. Although these career driven people do not have a book to guide their path, they pursue it none the less. Some of these people have lost, or never had the belief, of reaching heaven, or even its existance. These people are the peers of the believers and set the rules or guidelines for career goals. So in effect the status in the community is a way of saying they are better. The people who do not believe in any god-like being fight in an effort to make their mark on the world, for this is the only they can be recognized or remembered.