Essay about Nathaniel Hawthorne 's Young Goodman Brown

1039 Words Apr 18th, 2016 5 Pages
In 1835, Nathaniel Hawthorne published a short story, Young Goodman Brown. Over the years, many critics have agreed that Young Goodman Brown is one of Hawthorne 's best works. However, one thing they cannot all seem to agree upon is, what does the story mean? Some say the story aims to “the reality of sin, the pervasiveness of evil, the secret sin and hypocrisy of all persons, the hypocrisy of Puritanism, the results of doubt or disbelief, the devastating effects of moral skepticism, or the demoralizing effects of the discovery that all men are sinners and hypocrites” (McKeithan 93). Furthermore, Hawthorne may have used the story as a polemic to denounce the puritans.

To start, the story begins at sunset in “the street of Salem village” (Hawthorne). Young Goodman Brown, the protagonist, parts with his wife, Faith. She is wearing pink ribbons on her cap, which plays a part in the story. As Mr. Brown drew away from Faith the setting grew ominous. Hawthorne may have named Young Goodman’s wife “Faith” on purpose for symbolism, so Faith would be literally Goodman’s faith/belief. Towards the end of the path, Mr. Brown beholds a figure of a man “in grave and decent attire” (Hawthorne). The figure approaches Mr. Brown and converses with him. Mr. Brown notices that the man is holding a serpent staff and resembles himself, but in an older state. By saying that this grim figure resembles Mr. Brown, Hawthorne is implying that evil is looks like the common man even Puritans. The…

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