Young Goodman Brown: Characters Essay

4489 Words Jan 23rd, 2013 18 Pages
Young Goodman Brown: Characters

Introduction

“Young Goodman Brown” is a short story by the American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story made its first appearance in the New England Magazine for April 1835 and was collected in Mosses from an Old Manse in 1846. The story is set in the Puritan New England, a common setting for Hawthorne's works, and like most of the stories in Mosses, “Young Goodman Brown” examines Hawthorne’s favorite themes: the loss of religious faith, presence of temptation, and social ills of Puritan communities. These themes, along with the story’s dark, surreal ending, make “Young Goodman Brown” one of the Hawthorne’s most popular short stories.
In order to understand “Young Goodman Brown” we must, like the
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Analysis of the Major Characters
The characters in this story are generic, they belong to the category of “flat characters”, for they do not change in the course of the narrative, nor are they elaborated and characterized in an extensive way, but are built around a single idea which represents the core of the story.
They are also allegorical, combined together to make an all extending metaphor of the narrative and their function is implied in their names, which are highly symbolical. The entire narrative is a representation of the human soul's struggling with temptation and doubt, and with the loss of faith and its consequences. “Young Goodman Brown” is an allegory about the discovery of evil, and the fall of man, from which Hawthorne illustrates his view of the doomed fallibility and hypocrisy in the Puritan religion.

1. Young Goodman Brown
Much of this story's extensive body of criticism centers on its title's character, whose name is highly symbolical. The first part of the name, Young, signifies inexperience, innocence and ignorance of certain knowledge − knowledge of sin and of evil in the world and the people that surround him. The journey he takes into the forest could be interpreted as an act of maturing, growing up. The second part of the name, Goodman was a title used in the 17th century, and it was applied to a husband or the master of the household. And finally, Brown, which is his family name and a very common one, purposes in the sense that

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