What is young goodman brown about

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what is young goodman brown about

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Such a wonderfully (and eerily) subversive story of a man who sees what lies behind the virtuous facade. A classic dark romance, its got all the hallmarks of another kind of classic: that of the hero cycle (to use Joseph Campbells famous phrase), where the hero has to leave society to gain wisdom, which he then brings back with him. Here, though, the hero cycle is completely inverted. The wisdom that Young Goodman Brown gains, when hes off in the woods, is the belief that the townsfolk he thought were virtuous are in fact hypocrites and deceivers in league with the devil. He cant even look at his wife in the same way afterwards. Was what he saw in the woods real or just a dream? Its never resolved, but it doesnt matter, because dreams and reality are one in this tale. The grim final sentence makes clear the depths to which hes shaken and the extent to which he was never the same again: And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave a hoary corpse, followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grandchildren, a goodly procession, besides neighbors not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom.
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Young Goodman Brown - Summary Sketch

Young Goodman Brown

Goodman Brown says goodbye to his wife, Faith, outside of his house in Salem Village. Faith, wearing pink ribbons in her cap, asks him to stay with her, saying that she feels scared when she is by herself and free to think troubling thoughts. Goodman Brown tells her that he must travel for one night only and reminds her to say her prayers and go to bed early. He reassures her that if she does this, she will come to no harm. Goodman Brown takes final leave of Faith, thinking to himself that she might have guessed the evil purpose of his trip and promising to be a better person after this one night.

Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset into the street at Salem Village; but put his head back after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap while she called to Goodman Brown. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she's afeard of herself sometimes. Pray tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done 'twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, cost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married? So they parted; and the young man pursued his way until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.

That is, he writes about the nature of historical understanding by referring to historical situations or figures. In his better works he writes about this history allegorically, which I hope to clarify in this essay. As he offers these concrete meanings, however, he allows more permissive, democratic, responses to his stories. Much recent critical work on The Scarlet Letter assumes that part of the allegorical meaning of the letter A is this: A stands for America as a nation. While such brief quotation cannot do Bercovitch's book justice, it can demonstrate how Hawthorne's aesthetic and historical use of the Puritans extends into issues of the nineteenth-century. As such, it offers not only a viable understanding of how the three primary Hawthornian qualities of history, allegory, and moralism combine, indeed depend on one another, but it suggests how Hawthorne's allegory functions as history.

Plot Overview

Toggle navigation. Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne features Goodman which is an old-fashioned way of saying mister Brown who lives with his wife of three months, Faith in Salem village during the time of the Puritans. He tells her that he must go on a journey, and he heads into the woods. Once there, he meets a man who tries to persuade Goodman Brown to go with him, but Brown is reluctant. The man says that he knew Brown's father and grandfather and helped them in wicked ways.

Hawthorne frequently focuses on the tensions within Puritan culture, yet steeps his stories in the Puritan sense of sin. In a symbolic fashion, the story follows Young Goodman Brown's journey into self-scrutiny, which results in his loss of virtue and belief. The story begins at dusk in Salem Village, Massachusetts as young Goodman Brown leaves Faith, his wife of three months, for some unknown errand in the forest. Faith pleads with her husband to stay with her, but he insists that the journey must be completed that night. In the forest he meets an older man, dressed in a similar manner and bearing a physical resemblance to himself.


4 thoughts on “Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

  1. With a title like "Young Goodman Brown," you're probably expecting a fun romp about a bright-eyed lad strolling merrily through the forest, pretty much like a 19th-century Disney cartoon.

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