Critical Analysis Essay on Young Goodman Brown
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Young Goodman Brown is a short story written by the famous American author Nathaniel Hawthorne.
This writer is known to belong to Dark Romantics who introduced mysticism and sophisticated motives into their novels and short stories. Young Goodman Brown definitely possesses a dark romantic shade whereas it touches upon numerous religious and social problems in the context of mysticism. The short story was written in 1832 and describes the events that took place in the 17th century in Puritan New England. The author focused on the presentation of the Puritan belief and lifestyle. Puritans believed that every human being is a sinful creature and only God can save her soul. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote Young Goodman Brown in order to show hypocrisy of the church and believers. The action takes place during the Salem witch trials that were characterized with cruelty and hypocrisy.
The action of Young Goodman Brown takes place in Salem Village. The story starts from the conversation between Goodman Brown and his wife Faith. The young man wants to go to the forest at night but he makes his wife stay at home. He orders her to pray for him. When Goodman goes through the forest, he meets a man wearing regular clothes who resembles him a lot. This man holds a serpent-shaped staff and offers Goodman to join him in the specific meeting. The young man understands that this stranger is the devil. Very soon, he sees many people of his village wandering about the forest and greeting the devil. He sees Goody Cloyse, Deacon Gookin and other noble and honored people of his community. All of them come to this witches’ Sabbath. Goodman is shocked when he sees Faith among them. Although the entire village came to the devil, the young man refuses to accept the devil’s invitation. Goodman returned to the village next day and looked at his friends and wife in a different way. He was not sure whether the events were real or not. Nevertheless, he treated this information as a sign. He changed his mind about the inhabitants of his village and refused to communicate with them whereas they were hypocritical and pretended to be Christians.
It is possible to divide the short story into three major parts. The first part describes Goodman and his life in his village. He is the part of the society. He loves his wife Faith and respects the local people. The second part of the short story is devoted to Goodman’s trip to the forest. There he met the well-known noble people in the uncommon circumstances. They turned out to be unfaithful and participated in the witches’ Sabbath. Even his wife was a part of this impure event. The third section tells us about Goodman’s life in the village after his trip to the forest. He decided to exclude himself from the society.
Young Goodman Brown is an allegory about the definition of the evil and hypocritical nature of humanity. All the people of Brown’s village turned out to be hypocritical and evil. Even Deacon Gookin who is believed to be the example for others turned out to be a liar. All people pretend to be good but their nature is evil. In brief, people act on public and become real only in the forest at night when no one sees them.
The author plays with the language. Ne names his characters Goodman and Faith but these names are ironical and demonstrate the entire paradox of the story. The names and appearances of the people are positive but their true identities are completely different. Goodman’s wife is named Faith though she is not faithful at all. Secondly, the main character has an ironical name too. He is called Goodman though people are not good. On the contrary, they are evil. One can say that there is a motive of Christian self-exploration. Young Goodman Brown begins thinking about his own nature while communicating with the devil. Then, he saw many people who went to the witches’ Sabbath. This event influenced the main character strongly. He lost his faith into salvation and human goodness.
Many outstanding writers say that Young Goodman Brown is one of the best short stories of all times. Nathaniel Hawthorne managed to touch upon the most thought-provoking and disturbing existential questions in such a short text. He showed such paramount problems in such a simple and clear way.
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