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Young Goodman Brown

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"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the story of a man that is tempted by evil. He discovers that sometimes evil triumphs over good, and this makes a dramatic impact on his future. Brown lets his excessive pride in himself

interfere with his relations with his family and community after he meets with the devil, which causes him to live the life of an exile in his own community.

"Young Goodman Brown" begins in the street at Salem village where Goodman Brown will soon leave to begin his journey. Faith, Brown's wife, does not want him to go on this journey as she says to him, " 'prithee put off your journey until sunrise and sleep in your own bed tonight' " (Hawthorne 310-311). Goodman Brown replies, " 'of all

nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee' " (311). The couple part

and Goodman Brown sets forth on his journey. He is venturing into the woods to meet with the devil. This makes him feel guilty and he tries to justify the reason for his journey and lessen his guilt by saying, " 'After this one night I'll cling to her skirts and

follow her to heaven' " (311).

Goodman Brown heads down a "dreary road..." (311). He is then approached by his fellow traveler, who happens to be the devil. The devil had with him "a staff that bore the likeness of a great black snake" (312). The devil tries to convince Goodman

Brown to continue down the path with him, but Goodman Brown declares that he kept his meeting with the devil and no longer wishes to continue on. He says, " 'My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians' " (312). The devil is quick to point out,

however, that it was he that was with Brown's father and grandfather when they "set fire

to an Indian village" and "lashed the Quaker women" (312). These acts show that he does not come from a family of "good Christians" (312). 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. It would break her little heart; and I'd rather break my own' " (313). At this point the devil agrees with him and tells him to turn back and then points to a figure of a woman on the path. The woman on the path is Goody Cloyse. The woman who taught Brown his catechism in youth, and was still his moral and spiritual adviser"(313). 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.

Once again, Brown is determined not to proceed any further. He declares, " 'my

mind is made up. Not another step will I budge on this errand' " (314). The devil

proceeds further down the path and leaves Goodman alone "applauding himself greatly" for making a stand (314). " 'With heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand

firm against the devil!' " (315). As Goodman Brown is feeling good about himself, he

hears the voices of the minister and Deacon Gookin. He overhears discussing that "there is a goodly young woman to be taken into communion" at the meeting and fears that it may be his Faith (314). Goodman Brown "begins to doubt whether there really [is] a Heaven above him"(315). He declares that " 'With Heaven above, and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!' " (315). Again, Brown makes a promise to keep his faith unto God.

Brown hears what he believes to be voices that he has heard before in the community. The sound comes to him again and this time it is followed by "one voice, of a young woman" (315). Goodman believes this is Faith and he yells out her name only

to be mimicked by the echoes of the forest. A pink ribbon flies through the air and Goodman grabs it. At this moment, he has lost all faith in the world and declares that there is "no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil; for to thee is the world given" (315). At this point, Goodman Brown gets angry and challenges evil.

At this point, Goodman Brown has lost his faith in God, therefore there was nothing restraining him from moving forth again down the path. Brown sets forth again.

He comes upon the ceremony.



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