Young Goodman Brown

Word Count: 2192

The Downfall of Young Goodman Brown "Young Goodman
Brown", by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a story that is thick with
allegory. "Young Goodman Brown" is a moral story which is
told through the perversion of a religious leader. In "Young
Goodman Brown", Goodman Brown is a Puritan minister
who lets his excessive pride in himself interfere with his
relations with the community after he meets with the devil,
and causes him to live the life of an exile in his own
community. "Young Goodman Brown" begins when Faith,
Brown\'s wife, asks him not to go on an "errand". Goodman
Brown says to his "love and (my) Faith" that "this one night I
must tarry away from thee." When he says his "love" and his
"Faith", he is talking to his wife, but he is also talking to his
"faith" to God. He is venturing into the woods to meet with
the Devil, and by doing so, he leaves his unquestionable faith
in God with his wife. He resolves that he will "cling to her
skirts and follow her to Heaven." This is an example of the
excessive pride because he feels that he can sin and meet
with the Devil because of this promise that he made to
himself. There is a tremendous irony to this promise because
when Goodman Brown comes back at dawn; he can no
longer look at his wife with the same faith he had before.
When Goodman Brown finally meets with the Devil, he
declares that the reason he was late was because "Faith kept
me back awhile." This statement has a double meaning
because his wife physically prevented him from being on
time for his meeting with the devil, but his faith to God i
psychologically delayed his meeting with the devil. The Devil
had with him a staff that "bore the likeness of a great black
snake". The staff which looked like a snake is a reference to
the snake in the story of Adam and Eve. The snake led
Adam and Eve to their destruction by leading them to the
Tree of Knowledge. The Adam and Eve story is similar to
Goodman Brown in that they are both seeking unfathomable
amounts of knowledge. Once Adam and Eve ate from the
Tree of Knowledge they were expelled from their paradise.
The Devil\'s staff eventually leads Goodman Brown to the
Devil\'s ceremony which destroys Goodman Brown\'s faith in
his fellow man, therefore expelling him from his utopia.
Goodman Brown almost immediately declares that he kept
his meeting with the Devil and no longer wishes to continue
on his errand with the Devil. He says that he comes from a
"race of honest men and good Christians" and that his father
had never gone on this errand and nor will he. The Devil is
quick to point out however that he was with his father and
grandfather when they were flogging a woman or burning an
Indian village, respectively. These acts are ironic in that they
were bad deeds done in the name of good, and it shows that
he does not come from "good Christians." When Goodman
Brown\'s first excuse not to carry on with the errand proves
to be unconvincing, he says he can\'t go because of his wife,
"Faith". And because of her, he can not carry out the errand
any further. At this point the Devil agrees with him and tells
him to turn back to prevent that "Faith should come to any
harm" like the old woman in front of them on the path.
Ironically, Goodman Brown\'s faith is harmed because the
woman on the path is the woman who "taught him his
catechism in youth, and was still his moral and spiritual
adviser." The Devil and the woman talk and afterward,
Brown continues to walk on with the Devil in the disbelief of
what he had just witnessed. Ironically, he blames the woman
for consorting with the Devil but his own pride stops him
from realizing that his faults are the same as the woman\'s.
Brown again decides that he will no longer to continue on his
errand and rationalizes that just because his teacher was not
going to heaven, why should he "quit my dear Faith, and go
after her". At this, the Devil tosses Goodman Brown his staff
(which will lead him out of his Eden) and leaves him.
Goodman Brown begins to think to himself about his
situation and his pride in himself begins to build. He
"applauds himself greatly, and thinking with how clear a
conscience he should meet his minister...And what calm
sleep would be the arms of Faith!"