Literary Analysis of Young Goodman BrownB





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Literary Analysis of Young Goodman Brown

“Young Goodman Brown” a story by Nathaniel Hawthorn which commonly talks about the power of social expectations, the transformation of people’s way of living as well as the grip of the past. It is a precise and well-elaborated story on how the community is corrupt and how hypocrisy hides the real image of the society. It is about Goodman Brown on how he used to figure out the politicians, spiritual leaders, the community members and his wife Faith as the epitome of moral ethics in the society. However, all this trust and believe ended changing him to an independent person who cannot trust on anyone in the community even his wife after knowing that they were all involved in the evil ceremony that usually happened during the night on the sacred forests. Hawthorn appropriately applies literary devices to bring out the plot of the story as well as its clear interpretation. Characterization has been well put off in the story where the main characters are Goodman Brown, Faith, and the Old Man. In this paper, the literary critical analysis of the “Young Goodman Brown” in regards of the themes, symbolism, historical content, motifs, themes, settings, the dark romantics and fall of man as well as the plot as brought up in the story are elaborated into an in-depth extent.

The settings of the story reflect the historical context of the community as well as the cultural beliefs and erosion of ethics in the society. Considering its environmental settings is in a rural area at Salem village where the evil people were associated with dark things used to attend the evil ceremony at night. The witch and people who were believed to be going the religion rules were the ones associated with such ceremonies (Hawthorne, page 13). Even though the author does not put clear whether it was the reality or a dream, it shows that during the nineteenth-century people were corrupt in superstition and other cultural beliefs that put a boundary between them and Christianity. Women were associated with purity and were regarded as vital pillars of the family in the matters regarding religion in the community. Good Brown believed that his wife was pure and the one to lead him towards the kingdom of heaven and attended the ceremony saying that it would be the last time and he follows Faith’s footsteps. However, it was against his expectations and surprising to meet her on the evil’s ceremony during the night. The case was not different with the deacons, and other community leaders who were regarded as the mirror of the society and Young Goodman Brown could not trust them anymore.

Dark romantics are also part of the story which author uses to express the cultural beliefs of many others writers in the early nineteenth-century deed. The gothic story composes a description of gloomy events followed with the psychological nuisance. The author uses his wife to illustrate the act of evil in the society and hypocrisy ending up never to trust anyone and living according to his principles and religious beliefs. It is traumatizing that Goodman Brown has kept hope for his wife as the one to transform and lead him towards the Christianity ways, but later realized she was also involved in the evil ceremony. The religious leaders and politicians are respectable heads of the community who tricks people about their love of God and public, but they are hypocrites who get involved in witchcraft and all other sorts of evils (Takeuchi, page 21). The “Young Goodman Brown” acts as a metaphor for the fall of man in the society regarding the author’s illustration of what he sees as hypocrisy and integral imperfection in the nation’s religion. It symbolically reflects the story in the bible on how the serpent enticed Eve to take the forbidden fruit which also put Adam in the same action and finally they were exiled from the garden of Aden and subjected to the pain of evils they deed. Goodman Brown was enticed by the Oldman to attend the dark ceremony where afterward realized the hypocrisy and moral degradation in the society and ended up trusting no one even his beloved wife.

The author accurately uses themes to bring out the conflict and other critical devices as well as development of the story’s plot. The themes that are mainly reflected in the story include the weakness of public morality, fear of wilderness and the inevitable loss of innocence. The mentioned above themes are the ones that the author applies bringing out the conflict and enhancing readers understandability. The theme of the weakness of public morality is reflected in the story where all the people in the community beginning with politicians to religious leaders and civilians are involved in unethical deeds. It illustrated in a conflict of the story before Goodman Brown attending the evil ceremony and at the climax where he decided never to trust anybody in the community and live his own moral life. The theme of fear of wilderness also significantly enhances plot development. Goodman Brown was in high terror as he gets into the lonely forest and meets with the Oldman (Melville, page 17). The wilderness represented evil as he was afraid and ashamed of being seen by other community members in the forest such as the woman whom they met on their way to the evil ceremony. The theme of inevitable loss of innocence creates the climax of the story. After realizing that all the community members are evil and eroded with hypocrisy, Goodman Brown decided to live independently and seek his interventions towards religion and the kingdom of heaven.

According to the discussion above, hawthorn’s “Young Goodman Brown” is a reflection of the today’s society where people have to live on their means and they are responsible for the evil deeds that one commits. The story is educative not only to the present but also the future generations as it shows how hypocrisy has corrupted the society in all the sectors both social-economically and political basis.


Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Booklassic, 2015.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Simon and Schuster, 2012.

Melville, Herman. “Hawthorne and his Mosses.” Literary World 17 (2015): 17.

Takeuchi, Kisaki. “An Analysis of Hawthorne and Akutagawa.” (2016).