Conflict In Young Goodman Brown

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown is one of the most often read short stories in American Literature. Because it is dark and mysterious, it seems like an appropriate story to read as we approach the Halloween season. The author developed many and interesting themes in this story and among these is the role of evil in the lives of ordinary people. The main character in the story is, as his name indicates, a good man at the outset. As the story unfolds, the reader gets the impression that evil and crime are ever present and that people are at heart weak and troubled and subject to temptation and feelings of guilt.
At the heart of the story is the walk that Goodman Brown takes into the woods one night despite the fact that his young wife
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There he sees his beautiful young wife Faith who is brought with him to the altar. It seems to be some kind of an initiating rite and Goodman is frightened. The reader might get the impression that the ceremony is something like a collection of witches stirring up a brew of evil. But if all the townspeople are present and participating, it has to be something else. Maybe it is an initiation into the dark side of Puritan social conformity where anyone who is different or thinks differently is under suspicion. After Goodman Brown calls out for Faith to resist the ceremony, the main character is instantly transported back to his home, as if he had only been dreaming. The experience of the dream or the journey into the dark woods is very troubling and Goodman begins to suspect that the townspeople of Salem are in fact not the upright decent Christians that they would have everyone believe they are. He even suspects his wife of being a hypocrite and he loses confidence in the basic goodness of her and humanity in general. He lives out the rest of his days in turmoil and despair. He is a non-conformist now and it is a lonely …show more content…
Was it, as Goodman imagines, only a dream? The reader isn’t sure. Was it meant to be a symbolic journey of a believing man from childish superstition to the loneliness of doubt? By reading a little about the author on the Internet, I think that the story is meant to show how Goodman did in old age lose his faith and that the loss of faith in his wife and his fellow townspeople made him lonely and despairing. Nathaniel Hawthorne, according to what I read to help me understand the story better, was horrified by the Salem witch trials in which his own grandfather was one of the judges who condemned innocent people to death. The author himself rejected the extremes of Puritanism along with the hypocrisy that it encouraged. I suppose Goodman Brown’s transformation from gullible and superstitious conformist to a doubting disbeliever could also be seen as the story of the author’s own personal journey from belief to

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