Short Story Analysis of Young Goodman Brown.
Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown" is an allegory set in New England during the puritan age. The theme of the story is the evil nature of mankind, the inner struggle of good and evil, and the deceptiveness of appearances. Many questions go unanswered throughout the story. Why did Goodman Brown enter the forest? Is his trip into the forest reality or an illusion? Perhaps the author intended for the readers to come up with their own conclusions.
The story begins with Goodman Brown going to the forest on an errand, while leaving his wife, Faith, behind. Apparently, he feels guilty to leave his wife behind, because he later states " and after this night, I"ll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven."(607) This internal conflict ultimately destroys Young Goodman Brown and creates a new man.
While in the forest, Young Goodman Brown makes a deal with the Devil. He seems to be indecisive as to whether his true passion lies in the dark forest, or if it lies in the innocence and youth he enjoyed back home in the village. The Devil had a close resemblance to Goodman Brown. This resemblance was an attempt by the Devil to reach some sort of brotherhood with Brown. In fact, when Goody Cloyse sees him she says he is "in the very image of my old gossip, Goodman Brown.".
Later in the journey, Brown is shocked to see religious figures along the way, with the same evil intentions. He sees his childhood catechism teacher, now a witch, and overhears the voices of his minister and a deacon of his church as they ride past talking about the satanic communion service to which they and he are going. This tortures Brown as he wonders how the good people he knew were, in actuality, witches.
With all this on Brown's shoulders, he attempts to pray, but stops when a cloud suddenly darkens the sky. Voices begin to babel from the cloud, many recognizable to Brown as belonging to religious people, and among them his wife.