Essay about Goodman Brown

Submitted By mmeyer24
Words: 792
Pages: 4

Salem Sunset

In Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne depicts “the dark side of human nature”. Hawthorne uses the time period, the location and the physical structures as elements of setting that he uses in his short story. The use of these themes is to enhance the experience and involvement of the reader with inevitable evil that will ultimately lead to a loss of faith and to isolation in his life.
The time period is the first element of setting that enhances Hawthorne’s theme. The story is set in the Puritan Time Period. This time period was marked by incredible intolerance and suspicion, which is clearly brought to light through Hawthorne’s writing. The specific time period builds to the theme because the loss of faith is a result of suspicion of evil in everyone and everything. In addition to the Puritan period, Hawthorne uses Faith to hint that it is “Hollow’s Eve” or Halloween as it is known to us. This is important to the story as it has been symbolized as the night of evil. Faith begs of her husband, “Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year” (Hawthorne, 118). She is obviously afraid of what might happen on the night when the spirits are about. She knows, in part, what the night of All Hollow’s Eve holds for her. This particular instance upholds the theme because she knows that her impending experience with evil will separate her from her husband. Furthermore, Hawthorne uses the time of day to help direct the theme in the story such as, “Young Goodman Brown came forth, at sunset…” this supports the fact that his journey needed to be completed that specific night. Also the night is an isolated time of day, when people are alone and at their most vulnerable to an irrational fear of the dark. This supports the theme because leading up to his encounter with evil, Goodman Brown was already isolating himself from his wife and the other people in the village, slowly losing his grip on reality.
Hawthorne also uses the location of “Young Goodman Brown” to enhance the theme of the short story. Young Goodman Brown is set in the Salem Village. This part of the setting is of historical significance because of the “Witch Trials” that occurred in Salem, Massachusetts. This knowledge gives the reader an idea that witchcraft and deviltry loom ahead, a type of foreshadowing one could say. The fact that the story is set in the Salem Village builds on the theme about evil and isolation. The climax of the story takes place in the “old heathen forest” (Hawthorne, 121). Through this forest, the path “grew wilder and drearier… leaving Young Goodman Brown in the heart of the wilderness” (Hawthorne, 122). The words used to describe the forest; “heathen” and “wild” supports the theme by adding to the idea of evil. These words are usually not associated with Christianity, but rather with evil. The forest setting is significant because it really demonstrates he isolation well that…