Fleeting Faith 1 Essays

Submitted By kphipps23
Words: 1195
Pages: 5

Kyle Phipps
Mrs. Pamela Merryman
English Composition II
2 March 2015
Fleeting Faith In his short story “Young Goodman Brown”, Nathaniel Hawthorn uses unmistakable symbolism throughout the entire tale. This symbolism brings out a deeper meaning to the story that one does not have to dig very deep to grasp. Hawthorn takes the protagonist down a trail that ultimately ends with him doubting his puritan faith and constantly being suspicions of his neighbor's hypocrisy. By doing this Hawthorn is conveying the doubts many people had of the early puritan religion. This “walk with the devil” transforms Goodman Brown, from an upstanding gentleman of good repute, into a cynical old man who “was borne to his grave a hoary corpse” (642). This transformation began “at sunset” (633), as Brown was leaving his wife. Even as the story is just beginning the symbolism is already appearing. Sunset is the time when a puritan man should be at home with his faith, but instead Goodman Brown is heading out on a mysterious task. The night is not a time when one should be going out, which sets a ominous tone for the story to take place. The second glaring symbolism is Goodman Brown's wife. “Faith, as [his] wife was aptly named” (633) is portrayed with pink ribbons on her cap. These ribbons symbolize innocents and purity. Though it is not just her ribbons, but actually Faith herself who is the embodiment of Goodman Brown's very own puritan faith. They are only “three months married” (634), and this comes across as Goodman Brown's faith being fairly new and devout. Brown must leave his faith at home, to go on a task that can only be done at night. But not even his love for faith could stop him from making “haste on his present evil purpose” (634), because after this one time of leaving her, he will “cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven” (634). Hawthorn is showing man's heart here. Mankind will have a desire to leave their faith and chase something that is evil, but in the back of their mind they will always think, “this is the last time”. Hawthorn begins to use imagery to show that Goodman Brown's task is taking him somewhere that he should not be. As Goodman Brown continues on his midnight journey he approached “a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind” (634). The forest is depicted as a dark and scarey place, a place that closes behind and traps him. Hawthorn shows that all people go into the forest, the holy and the depraved. The forest is sin, a place Goodman Brown says he will meet with Satan, but not want to go any further (635). Goodman Brown does not want to be seen in the forest, sin, so when he sees Goody Cloyse he backs off to be hidden. This forest is a symbol for sin, a place where people should not go, but sometimes venture into because of temptations, just like Goodman Brown. Once inside the forest Hawthorn introduces another main character, the elderly traveler. This man is a symbol that represents Satan. Satan is the one that wanted to meet with Goodman Brown in the forest. This is the temptation that drew him out after dark. Once Goodman Brown meets the elderly traveler he exchanges “his slow pace for a full stop” (635). He told Satan he would meet him there but go no further. This resolve slowly faded as Satan talks him into continuing as Goodman Brown “unconsciously resum[ed] his walking” (635). Hawthorn is showing that as Satan will tempt man by saying, its okay to go this far, he will trick people into going further, “reasoning your way as you go” (635). Goodman Brown will end up going deeper and deeper into the forest and not even knowing how he got that far. As they walk deeper into the forest Satan is casting more and more doubt into Goodman Brown about his faith. This is shown symbolically by Satan attacking the very beginning of his puritan faith, Goody Cloyse who “taught him his catechism in…