Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a short story that was published in 1835 the author features a depth of characteristics of a religious man that had faced the harsh truth of sins and wicked evilness of men as well as having shown the reality that his religion is based on falsity of faith explicitly detailing the hypocrisy of his fellow men. It is an intriguing and insightful short story that centers towards the duality of men’s moral values embedded in life, showing its good and evil sides as well as expressing the justification of their sins and doubt in decisions that may or may not alter our very lives.
The book is about a realization of the falsity of his religion Puritanism as well as the hideous personality of a man’s evil intention and temptation. The author argues that every man has two sides that we may or may know at all. A side that we thought them as pious but in truth, is a vile person. He definitively explained the doubts and realizations of Goodman’s decision in his religion Puritanism by showing the curious perspective of the character. The setting of the story mainly focuses on the Salem village of the main character where his wife and fellow religious villagers lived, and the dark dreadful forest. Reading the short story as well as conducting research about the short story points out the historical and bibliographical life of the author himself. In this particular story, he gives us a glimpse of his shame of the misdeeds of his father and his religion puritanism during the persecution of supposed wicked witches. Goodman Brown, Faith, the fifty-year-old man, Deacon Gookin, Goody Cloyse, Minister, and the old lady are the names of the characters in the story. Based on my understanding of the story, the main point of it is to show that humanity is like a coin corruptible or greatness are two sides of the same coin there is no in-between them; a choice and decision always center the life of a man. No matter how small it is it could still change the course of the path you chose. It also points out that no matter the goodness you had or you have seen, there are times that the sins committed could be falsely justified by either oneself or the other. The theme of the story focuses on the two factors: the duality of good and evil as well as losing the last strand of a naïve innocence of knowledge about faith itself. The author concludes that the conflict of men themselves, as well as the society, is evident in ourselves and religion. Aside from the gratification of sins and hypocrisy of men it gives insight that men are just a mere human that could commit sins and validates the two equal perspectives based on the morality of a human.
After repeatedly reading this short story and doing research about the author, I realized that the events mentioned in the story largely mirrors the life of the author himself as well as the misguided judgments, and the gratification of sinning a daily basis. These factors are still apparent in today’s society that after reading this story. I had an epiphany that indeed evil is part of our nature’s conditioning. We know that within ourselves we sin with or without knowing it at all. This kind of conditioning is already seated in our very core that sinning itself can be justified if permitted to reason it out. However, I do not like the thought that ‘evil is part of our mankind’ because neither are we born as intentionally evil nor anyone is born out of his/her volition to be evil themselves rather we mold ourselves to be who we are, and it wholly depends on the conditioning we had as we grow older. It is within this conditioning that we let the tainted temptations get into us making ourselves susceptible to the dark corruptions mostly resulting in having the duality of morality.
The Young-man Goodman Brown story was able to attain intended goals of the story by showing the historical life of the author himself, deconstructing the binary oppositions of the symbols used to convey that flaws and inherent goodness that takes us to the deeper insight to what lurks beyond it and the psychoanalytical flaws of mankind giving way for us to know that this flaw defines us to be imperfectly perfect being.
As I had researched in his history, he mostly wrote stories detailing his religion Puritanism which is about the great religious experience being exercised and family history to cite examples that express his goals in writing it mainly to let the readers know the hypocrisy and shame he felt knowing the dark wicked story of his family relations towards the execution of the falsely charged female witches, and the great involvement of his religion Puritanism in it. Reaching to the point that he added a ‘w’ letter to hide the atrocities of his family. As the events of the story implies the old man greatly spoke the brief history of the misdeeds of the author’s family indicating that history is not all about victories and purging the evil but expressing the dark gruesome fate of the hypocrisy of his religion Puritanism towards the female thought as evil witches as well as taking us to the perspective that mankind has lapses in their judgments, actions, and emotions.
Throughout the story, the authors had used a lot of symbols to be interpreted in many ways. Namely, characters themselves: Goodman Brown represents the naïve, easily influenced and innocence of a person and later lost his conceptions about his faith and respect to others. As the story progresses the author explicitly implied the curious side of the main character as well as expressing his thoughts and doubts about the dubious old man and the naïve thinking that all men are good individuals until it was ruined by knowing the harsh truth of evilness lurking within these individuals. Faith, on the other hand, as the name implies gives faith to his husband and draws out that everything is all about goodness around them. The objects about the character such as the pink ribbon show two sides representing the naivety of her husband and losing the innocence of her husband. Even in the beginning, the symbol ‘pink ribbon’ is often stated again and again in his departure to seek answer regarding the temptations of the old man clearly stating the naïve thinking of Goodman about the old man. Again it was stated in the conflict of the story when Goodman saw his wife in the ceremonial rites of the demoniacal practice he was once invited to join. Stating the inevitable loss of innocence of her husband. The ‘staff that resembles a snake’ could be taken as a symbolism of the temptation of evilness towards the easily influenced innocence of Goodman. Lastly, the settings the dark dreadful forest could be taken as a symbolism of pure evil intentions and temptations of the dubious religious practitioners that lived in the same village as the main character while the Salem village could symbolize as the mask of tainted truth; hypocrisy itself is broadly evident in the villagers supposed religious belief. These symbols unify one thought I could gather as I read it. It is all about the human fallible characteristics that even I as a reader could relate to it. These flaws enable us to see the world in a wise perception that not every good man is a perfect human nor not every misunderstood man is a vile man. We need not look what lies before us, but we need to look beyond the perception.
The psychoanalytical analysis of the story exhibits the conflict of fulfilling his desire towards the influenced temptation and the conscience suppressing his desire to fulfill it. Throughout the story, the character arc of Goodman Brown flowed in Three parts. The 1st part detailing the child-like innocence that could be easily manipulated by the evil man. For me, it might be because of his deep-rooted faith exercise, and curiosity getting the best of him that gets to the point that he disregards his doubts and fears on the entrancing persuasion of the old man. In his 2nd part, this is where he puts his doubts, fears, and distrust towards the old man. It’s because of the suspicious environment he was set to travel and the dodgy staff that the old man had in his hand. The 3rd part is where he realizes the sad and harsh truth of the villager’s characters concerning his religion that he got to decide not to trust them anymore. Throughout the events of the story, it is evident that the guilt, temptation, desire and falsity of characteristics are used as dark imagery of man’s other perspective. It showcases the direct approach of two sides contradicting on one another. It showed the truth of the battle each one of us takes in taking a choice between the decisions we made. The story lets us interpret out of making us ponder to take matters logically and disregarding the moral values it opposes or it may make us wonder if taking the moral value with it may make us not so vile person.
You must read this short story because it evokes the very conscience of the reader to think thoroughly of the things she thought is similar to sinning. One may think that sinning may depend on its degree of severity and just concluding that it might not be a sin at all. However, it is not about the case to case bases rather it is about the strong urge to resist doing the said sin. Once you’ve read this passage you will be reawakened about this kind of thoughts and would be wise enough not to sin. Another point to make in reading this passage is that it lets you know the dichotomy of human characteristics and enables you to know that not everything around us is showing the real thing.