Essay, Research Paper: Goodman


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What is theme? Theme is what the author is saying about the subject of the
story. In "Young Goodman Brown" the subject of the story is hypocrisy.
In "Young Goodman Brown", Hawthorne writes in detail how hypocrisy can
change a person for the worse. In the opening pages of the story you can see how
hypocrisy is already starting to change Goodman Brown for the worse. As he
starts out on his errand that he has to run, Goodman Brown decides to walk as
Hawthorne puts it "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." (141). The forest is an important symbol in
this story. The forest symbolizes evil and it symbolizes evil because of the
darkness of the forest. As Goodman Brown and his companion continue their
journey through the dark forest Goodman Brown starts to realize this
"errand" that he is running is no ordinary one. Goodman Brown knows
that he is doing something scorned down on by Puritan beliefs as he says the
following: "My father ever went into the woods on such an errand, nor his
father before him. We have been have been a race of honest men and good
Christians since the days of the martyrs. And shall I be the first of the name
of Brown that has ever took this path and kept." (141). So basically what
he is saying in that quote is that he knows what he is doing is wrong, but he
doesn't care. Goodman Brown is hard to convince that his family and the Puritans
in general are not as righteous and pure as he thinks they are. The companion
tries endlessly to convince Goodman Brown that his own family is not as
"pure" as it seems. The traveler tells Goodman some stories of his own
family doing dirty things such as setting fire to an Indian Village and lashing
a Quaker woman. However Goodman does still not believe any of what the traveler
is saying. Continuing on the path Brown and his companion stumble upon Deacon
Gookin and his Goody Cloyse and Goodman is astonished by this because he would
have never thought that the good wife would be so far in the forest that late at
night. By seeing the good wife in the forest at that time of night makes Goodman
not want to go on. While sitting on a stump, Goodman yells out "Friend, my
mind is made up. Not another step wills I budge on this errand. What if a
wretched old woman choose to go to the devil when I thought she was going to
Heaven! Is that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith and go after
her?" (143) Basically he is quitting what the errand because he senses that
what the companion has told him is to eat at him. In other words the hypocrisy
is starting to enter his soul and he is trying to keep it from doing that by
stopping the journey. Another example of what Hawthorne is saying about
hypocrisy in the story is the part where Goodman hears what the Deacon says as
he passes by in the carriage. Goodman is astonished by the words he hears coming
from the carriage. Also Brown is amazed that the Deacon would have traveled that
far into the dark and dreary forest. As Hawthorne puts it "Young Goodman
Brown caught hold of a tree, for support, being ready to sink to the ground,
faint and over-burthened with the heavy sickness of his heart. He looked up to
the sky doubting whether there really was a Heaven above him." (144)
Basically Goodman cannot believe what he just heard from the leaders of the
Religion of the puritans; he is amazed that impurity lies within the most
religious people of the Puritans. It makes him believe what the companion told
him about pureness. Seeing all of this makes him say that if no one else wants
to stand true to the beliefs of the puritans, not even the Deacon himself, then
he was going to be the one who does. Moreover witnessing all of that Goodman
finally understands that purity is no longer what all mankind strives for. As
Brown stands their he looks up to see what was once a blue sky has suddenly
turned gray. This Gray sky symbolizes the impurity or hypocrisy that has taken
over the earth. Goodman also hears sounds from the cloud, which also represent
deceit and wickedness. Goodman is really bothered by this and he says, "My
Faith is gone there is no good on earth, and sin is but a name. Come Devil! for
to thee the world given." (145). All Goodman is saying is that the devil
can come and take over the world because it is full of sin and wickedness. In
the same way as the others who have given into hypocrisy Goodman himself now
gives into the hypocrisy. Hawthorne writes, "In truth all through the
haunted forest there could be nothing more frightening than the figure of
Goodman Brown." This is Hawthorn's cunning way of saying that Goodman he
turned for the worse Brown has now at this point done a complete 360 of his
usual pure ways and runs around the forest making obscene gestures and terrible
remarks. Hypocrisy has swamped Goodman's soul to the point where he has a dream
that these couples gets converted from Christians to Devil Worshipers and are
encouraged to not to look to God but look to the Devil for Guidance and follow
the ways of the devil. Hawthorne writes a line to show my point, "Faith!
Faith! look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!" So in other words
don't look to god is what Hawthorne is saying. In conclusion "Young Goodman
Brown" is a story about hypocrisy and how it came corrupt the purest of
peoples minds if they choose to let it in. This story also shows that even
though puritans all may act "pure" on the outside, they aren't really
as pure as everybody makes them out to be.

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