Most criticism and reflection of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" centers on the theme of good versus evil. Critics, also, controversy interpretations of the key character's awareness; is Young Goodman Brown awake or thinking? What is certain is that he lives and dies in pain because his idea in his righteousness leads him to isolate himself from his community. It is, also, sure that Hawthorne's interpretation of Brown's "mid-life crisis" has doubt and leaves the audience with many different feelings in what and why certain things have happened. Hawthorne's use of symbolism in his symbolic story, "Young Goodman Brown", causes the main character's revelations about the sin within his community, his family and himself.
Young Goodman Brown's trip in to the forest is some sort of general, unstated account, representing man's irrational power to leave beliefs, home, and security temporarily behind, for whatever reason, and take a chance with one trip into the woods of temptation. Young Goodman Brown's curiosity to discover what is based on the depths of the forest disables his ability to have a naive lifestyle and changes his attitude, view on life, and just how he lives until his loss of life. Young Goodman Brown has a quest to go into the forest and meet the devil. A mission that he begins out of attention and a yearning to see if the teachings of his years as a child, his faith, and his culture, have given him enough will power to sufficiently look the devil in the face and come back unchanged. The image of the forest, overdue during the night, can be interpreted as the untamed regions of Young Goodman Brown's heart, where the devil roams openly as he roams in the forest. The forest is the devil's territory. When Young Goodman Brown ventures out in to the forest for his battle with the devil, he detects that at night of the night, lots of the well thought of, respectable customers of his community and closest friends have already discovered this temptation and also have lost or given into the devil. One particular person was Goody Cloyse, the "old woman that taught me my catechism" (394). All those things Young Goodman Dark brown considers moral and "good" in his life, he detects sinning in the forest. Viewing these various members of the town that he came accomplishing this evil deed torments his head and, subsequently, destroys his belief of basically everything in his life.
A "good man" in Hawthorne's day was a person of proper ancestry. Hawthorne uses this very way of the times to take benefit of Young Goodman Dark brown in his convention with the devil. Goodman Dark brown claims that he is from a family of upright and moral men that would never go into the forest on a journey like the one he is presently taking when he says "My dad never went into the woods on this errand, nor his father before him. We have a competition of genuine men and good Christians because the days of the martyrs; and shall I be the first of the name Dark brown that ever needed this course and placed--" (392). The devil then informs him that is incorrect and allows Goodman Dark brown in on the secret that they, too, acquired taken this same walk many a night time. The devil disproves Goodman Brown's beliefs that his family could not have participated in this evil deed, by saying that "They (his family) were my friends, both; and many a pleasurable walk have we along this way, and went back merrily after midnight" (392). Hawthorne uses this concept of being from a good qualifications and still heading astray to criticize the way in which society at the times put so much emphasis on a person's background to find out that person's value in society. With this, Hawthorne has mocked the tradition of Goodman Brown's family qualifications and his society's view of honor by putting to shame his family's history. However, the devil points to the painful truth of days gone by and the truth of the way in which people act in today's. This could be Hawthorne's try to play upon the reader's prospect to start to see the devil as evil and stand next to the "good man" and his fate.
Distraught, disappointed and confused, Goodman Brown leaves the company of the devil and his fellow townspeople. He demands faith and desire from the heavens crying aloud "With heaven above and Faith below, I'll yet stand company against the devil!" (395). Hawthorne uses Trust as another important sign in this short story. Trust is Goodman Brown's partner. Trust, and Goodman Brown's regards to it, also to her, is the main element that leads the audience to the story's meaning. One believes using things in order to understand those that cannot necessarily or easily be proven for a fact. Without belief or beliefs, it is difficult to comprehend the nature of sin. Faith is the belief that allows and gives capacity to the human head and allows it to understand what is unexplainable and incomprehensible. With beliefs, one will ignore certain facts including the evil that was present within Goodman Brown's community. However, when this trust and trust has been shattered the evil locally that Goodman Dark brown did not see before reveals itself because he no more has beliefs. When Young Goodman Brown went into the forest, he remaining his inhibitions and awareness of what other people think of him behind in the town. Therefore, allowing him to have the ability to "see" the things his naivet, upbringings, and trust blinded him from before. Goodman Brown's endeavor in to the forest is a departure from Faith, not only faith itself but, also, from his better half. When Goodman Dark brown fits the devil, he apologizes for being late. He expresses, "Faith maintained me back some time" (391). His faith tries to keep him from the evil he will see, but actually, it is wife Faith. When Goodman Dark brown telephone calls to heaven for his beliefs, he views "something flutter lightly down through the air and capture on the branch of a tree"(396). What he perceives are Faith's green ribbons from her mane. He, also, hears screaming and perhaps her tone. He screams in despair, "My Trust is gone! There is no good on the planet; sin is but a name" (396). At this time in the story, Goodman Brown offers up, begins to understand the realities in life, and loses his faith in mankind.
Goodman Dark brown never recovers from the views and experiences of this dark nights. He continues to live along with his loss of trust in himself, his wife, whom he, also, observed in the forest, and his community. It really is Goodman Brown's ability to perceive things from a genuine sense of fact, his knowing of the parting of what's actually going on around him, and how everyone portrays their lives to be that drives Goodman Dark brown to be a miserable man for the others of his life. Rather than making the effort of sympathy and like to unite himself with others, Dark brown changes and pushes himself from them permanently; having lost his sense of potential for compassion, he cannot live without certainty. Goodman Brown's, once only way of living, by faith exclusively, which was trained to him from his Puritan teachings, has not ready him for the sin on the globe. Being unable to offer with this new realization of sin converts Young Goodman Brown into a stern, judging, distrustful, dark man who never recovers his faith.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown. " Norton Anthology of Brief Fiction.
Ed. R. V. Cassill and Richard Bausch. Shorter 6th ed. New York: W. W. Norton, 2000. 390-399.