An analysis of young goodman brown by nathaniel hawthorne

Check our homepage for new, visually rich, fast and immersive experiences! This Penlighten article provides you with the summary and analysis of this short story.

An analysis of young goodman brown by nathaniel hawthorne

Summary Analysis At sunset in the town of Salem, Massachusetts, a man named Goodman Brown has just stepped over the threshold of the front door of his house. Faith is wearing a cap adorned with pink ribbons that flutter in the wind. Hawthorne creates a stark contrast between the seemingly perfect young newlyweds and their sinister setting, Salem at nightfall.

Active Themes Faith pleads with Goodman Brown not to leave her alone all night and instead to set out on his journey at sunrise.

Goodman Brown replies, somewhat mysteriously, that his journey must take place between sunrise and sunset, and begs Faith not to doubt his intentions. Faith relents and gives Goodman Brown her blessing, and he heads out in the street.

He looks back one last time and sees Faith watching him sadly despite the pink ribbons on her cap. The threshold of the house symbolizes a turning point, a moment in which Goodman Brown can choose to listen to Faith and stay at home as a good husband, or follow his curiosity and go off alone into the night.

Active Themes Now walking along on his way, Goodman Brown feels a crushing sense of guilt over leaving Faith, not just because she begged him to stay and comfort her, but because it looked as though, through some dream, she might have figured out what he was intending to do on that night.

He dismisses the thought, though, convinced that no one as pure and innocent as Faith could ever tolerate even thinking about such a thing. Guilt and paranoia are key emotions in the story. Goodman Brown feels crushing guilt not only because he is abandoning Faith but also because he fears that Faith knows about the sinful purpose of his journey.

He seems to think he can just dip a toe into sin and then draw back, no harm done.


Even so, he walks on until he encounters a mysterious man at a bend in the road. The man casually makes reference to having been in Boston fifteen minutes before. For Brown, who is walking into the forest expressly out of a sinful curiosity, the forest seems to hide sin everywhere. The forest might also then be seen as reflecting his own mind, full of its own confusions and terrors.

The mysterious man hints at supernatural powers by mentioning that he was in Boston just a few minutes before, an impossible feat. Active Themes As the two of them walk through the deep forest in the darkening dusk, the narrator describes the man as ordinary and simply dressed, and considerably older than Goodman Brown.

He looks enough like Goodman Brown that the two could be mistaken for father and son. Despite their similar appearance, the older man seems more worldly and at ease than Goodman Brown, as if he could sit comfortably at the dinner table of a governor or in the court of a King.

The point is clear: And one might argue here that the story of Goodman Brown is one of gaining knowledge of good and evil, of learning that good and evil are not always visible simply by their appearance and so can lurk anywhere.

An analysis of young goodman brown by nathaniel hawthorne

At the end of the story, Goodman Brown must try to live in the world with this new knowledge. Active Themes Sensing that Goodman Brown is tiring, the man offers him his staff to help pick up the pace. Goodman Brown refuses and begins to make his case for turning back toward home: The man suggests that they start walking, and that he will try to convince Goodman Brown while they walk.

Goodman Brown points out that nobody in his family, all good Christians, had ever agreed to meet up with a mysterious man in the woods at night, and he has no intentions of being the first.

Goodman Brown must choose whether to continue onward or turn back, the same choice he had to make at the threshold of his house. Once again, his family connections seem to urge him to turn back and stay in town; this time, instead of Faith asking him to stay in town, he thinks of the many generations of upright Puritans that came before him who would have wanted him to turn back.

He believes that all his relatives have been saintly, and the idea of being the first sinner horrifies him. This is important, because it means that he measures his own goodness against the goodness of his community, not against an absolute sense of right and wrong; he wants to do good in order to fit into his community, not in order to be moral or devout.

Further, this problematic framework for moral behavior emerges from the logic of Puritanism: Goodman Brown wonders why his father and grandfather never told him about their relationship with the man, but he immediately changes his mind and realizes that if there had been any bad rumors about them, they would have been kicked out of New England, since the community is so holy.

However, he understands that in Salem, it is even more important to seem saintly than it is to be saintly, and that the community would have responded to rumors of sin with ostracism, not mercy. At this point, though, Goodman Brown still believes that the community at large is so anti-sin because it is holy.

An analysis of young goodman brown by nathaniel hawthorne

The man bursts into violent laughter, and his staff seems to wiggle along. Yet Goodman continues to believe that even if his own family and the unapproachable Puritan leaders might be sinners, at least the people and immediate leaders of his own community are good.

When the man laughs at this, too, Goodman continues to believe that Faith, at least, is saintly and honest.In terms of offering an analysis of “Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne, while there is no definitive answer to the question of whether or not this “really" happened to Goodman Brown, one must assume that this was simply a dream that came from Goodman’s subconscious.

The story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a dark and eerie tale of one man’s fear and paranoia of evil within the world. A common activity for students is to create a plot diagram of the events from a story.

Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of a plot but to. Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'Young Goodman Brown' is a short story that's rich in meaning.

SparkNotes: Young Goodman Brown: Themes

In this lesson, we'll go over the plot points, themes, characters, and symbols. Exposition Now Departing Salem on Woodland Track Two. Hawthorne starts us off in atmosphere of suspense and mystery.

We learn that young Goodman Brown is going on a "journey" through the forest but we don't know where—or why (3). "Young Goodman Brown" is a short-story written by Hawthorne, which was first published in in New England Magazine, but anonymously.

Later, it was published under his name in his collection of short stories titled Mosses from an Old Manse in LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Young Goodman Brown, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

SparkNotes: Young Goodman Brown