Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown", portrays an internal struggle with morality versus temptation, and uncovers the deceptive faces evil wears. Young Goodman Brown, sets out on an errand of a dark nature leaving his wife, Faith, at home. However, Goodman Brown finds more than he bargained for when he discovers his spiritual advisors, and respected members of society all gathering to commend the devil and participate in ungodly deeds. His loss of trust in his townspeople and his church cause him to become suspicious and inconsolable for the rest of his life. Hawthorne emphasizes Brown's loss of faith, and suspicion of evil, with allegories, symbolism, and imagery.
Young Goodman Brown and his wife Faith are both literal representations of their name. Young Goodman Brown begins as a young-good-man. He is symbolic of any young-good-man, and represents how easy it is to fall into temptation. Faith, is his wife, and his belief in virtue. Hawthorne establishes this in quotes from Goodman Brown such as, "I"ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven" (260). Goodman Brown also comments when he first meets the antagonist, "Faith kept me back awhile" (261), revealing the sense of righteousness he does not want to lose. However, later in the story he screams, "My Faith is gone! There is no good on earth", thinking his wife was taken away from him. This statement illustrates his loss of devotion to the church, and belief in goodness. Hawthorne externalizes Goodman Brown's faith through his wife's name. The ribbons Faith wears in her hair symbolize youth, happiness, and purity, qualities Goodman Brown has at the beginning of the story. Unfortunately by the end of the story Goodman Brown is, "stern, sad, darkly meditative and distrustful" (269) all because he lost his faith and the qualities faith represents.
Before Goodman Brown met the antagonist, he was an average person who had no doubt in his faith.