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To Be Evil or Not to Be

             "The man who walks with god always knows in what direction he is going".
             (qtd. in Punch Lines, Hutson).
             This quote has a direct irony in correlation to Nathaniel Hawthorne's tale of "Young Goodman Brown". Hawthorne's profound short story is a pilgrimage to revelation for one devout Christian man; the idea that mankind, being himself, is not without sin and far from saintly perfection. This discovery deludes the Goodman greatly. As a result, he alienates himself from his wife Faith and the community he resides in. Hawthorne's usage of allegory and symbolism in this story shows how perilous excessive pride, moral superiority, and religious zealotry can be to one's mortal existence.
             Young Goodman Brown is an upstanding man in the community. The use of allegory is obvious in his name. "Young" symbolizes his youth and immaturity. "Goodman" seems to imply that he represents all that is good in man. His wife is aptly named "Faith", which symbolizes his faith in Christianity and commitment to rectitude. His faith is a little blind though; it borders on zealotry. To believe so blindly in the Bible verbatim, one must know that man's innate nature is to sin. According to the Bible, that is why Jesus Christ died on the cross - to forgive mankind's eternal sins. This creed leads Brown into the dark forest to confront evil. Hawthorne doesn't state why Brown must do this on this night of all nights "twixt now and sunrise" (Hawthorne 260). Perhaps the good man was awakening to the knowledge of his own moral imperfection. Unwilling to accept the inherent impurity inside him, the good man decides to try and literally face it head on. His immaturity and selfish pride won't allow quiet acquiescence.
             Brown's intentional meeting with evil says he lacked confidence in his own faith. Else, why would he want to challenge it? Upon entering the forest, Brown whispered to himself that the forest was so filled with darkness, he wouldn't be surprised if the devil himself matriculated beside him.

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