9 September 2010
Meditation on “Young Goodman Brown”
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” is known as one of the most famous Halloween stories in America. The story can be read in many ways, but the psychological approach reveals the complexity of human nature. The story is in essence dark and bizarre in setting; but when reading the story carefully something much more mysterious is uncovered—an uncertain destiny. History shows that there has always been conflict within one’s own religious belief system; and “Young Goodman Brown” is an example of religious internal conflict. It is a gothic tale that tells the story of a young man ...view middle of the document...
Maybe he doubts his faith. Maybe, like many of his fellow believers he surpasses on this journey, wants to partake in evil. Nevertheless, Goodman Brown gives into temptation to find that he is not the only one. Goodman Brown’s alleged father is accused of being good friends with the cunning enemy;
I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem; and it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip's war. They were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight. (Hawthorne 397)
The irony demonstrated in the passage uncovers the arrogance of the Puritans. Many of the Puritans in the story appear to be good saints, but when the tempter reveals their hearts, Brown is shocked—even though his curiosity also leads to his demise.
Goodman Brown represents many people throughout history, and those who are raised in religious cultures. The toiling within him represents an internal journey with evil. Curiosity and the need for justification always take people out of their way of righteousness according to the Holy Bible. In the third chapter of Genesis, Eve demonstrates human curiosity and the consequences from exploring it.
The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For...