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Young Goodman Brown
Transcript of Young Goodman Brown
Young Goodman Brown decides one night to leave his home in Salem Village and his wife, Faith to venture into the woods. In the woods he finds the old man he had planned to meet. The old man appears to be normal, but offers Goodman Brown a staff with a serpent on the end. He rejects the gesture as he just wishes to return to the village and Faith. During this meeting, the pious Goody Cloyse hobbles over to the old man and Goodman Brown darts behind a tree. Listening on their conversation, Goody Cloyse addresses the old man as the devil, and herself a witch and tells him she is on her way to the devil's ceremony. After hearing this, the old man gives Goodman Brown his staff (against Goodman Brown's will) and tells him that the staff will take him to the ceremony. Goodman Brown sits down and is then shocked to hear the voices of the minister of the village's church and Deacon Gookin, saying they are also on their way to the ceremony. Despite everyone else turning to the devil, Goodman Brown vows that he will remain true to God for his wife Faith. He then begins to hear voices arising from the ceremony and is certain that he hears the voice of Faith. He takes the staff and is dragged to the ceremony where he finds several of the respected, pious men and women of Salem gathered around a fire and figure atop a rock beckoning converts. Goodman Brown is dragged forward beside another person covered in robe. He finds out the other convert is Faith. He suddenly finds himself alone in the forest the next morning. He walks in to town and sees all the people of Salem as evil. He no longer trusts anyone in the village and does not love is wife, Faith.
Symbols & Images
Staff: The staff has a serpent on it which is the biblical symbol of evil. Like Eve, Goodman Brown refuses the evilness at first, but is then overcome with weakness and accepts it
Faith: Goodman Brown's wife symbolizes religious faith and loyalty
Faith's pink ribbon: Since red symbolizes evil and white symbolizes purity and innocence, the pink color of her ribbon represents purity and evil coming together
The Old Man: It's clear that the old man is the devil as he holds the staff of evil and beckons people to the ceremony
Hawthorne wants readers to learn that not all people are what they seem to be. That often people put on a facade to appear acceptable in society. He most likely wanted us to take away that not all people can be trusted, and society is corrupt.
Hawthorne was born in 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts. He was the son of a judge of the salem witch trials and therefore took a keen interest in New England's Puritan past. Hawthorne went to Bowdoin College and wrote Young Goodman Brown 10 years after graduating. Nearly 15 years later, Hawthorne wrote The Scarlet Letter
It is clear that the theme of this story is that religious faith is corrupted by society. Also that people are more concerned with how faithful they appear than how faithful they actually are. For example, Goodman Brown hides when he sees Goody Cloyse, the minister, and Deacon Gookin because he does not want to be seen meeting with the devil. It's obvious that Goodman Brown religion is influenced by the people around him. When he thought everyone was pure, he was a pious man, when he found out everyone was meeting with the devil, he turned to the devil too.
Goodman Brown: Goodman Brown starts off as a good man who is loyal to his wife and religion, but is then corrupted when he sees all the people of his village meeting with the devil
Old Man: The Old Man is assumed to be the devil who is responsible for luring Goodman Brown to the ceremony that would convert him to evil
Faith: Faith is Goodman Brown's wife who represents Goodman Brown's own faith to Christianity
Goody Cloyse: An old woman who Goodman Brown respected and thought of as a good, pious woman
The main conflict of the story is Goodman Brown's own internal conflict. Goodman Brown is struggling to obtain his faith and goodness when everyone is giving themselves to evil. The conflict establishes the theme and that people have trouble staying faithful when everyone around them is corrupted.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 6th ed. Eds. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R Mandell. Boston: Thomson/Heinle, 2007. 489-498. Print.
SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Young Goodman Brown.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2007. Web. 19 Sept. 2013.