The Tragedy of Young Goodman Brown

Essay by minhtam2448College, UndergraduateA, February 2008

download word file, 3 pages 4.3

Have you ever experienced a change in initial thought? You are given a first impression, then a certain revelation changes your life forever. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”, Young Goodman Brown suffers a similar fate. After leaving his wife Faith, Brown heads into a forest on a pilgrimage, where Brown discovers the second nature within the many people whom influenced his life, including Faith. Through the detailing of Brown’s journey, Hawthorne reveals the hidden parallel world that Brown has been unaware. Through Brown himself, the people he knows, and various objects and events that he would experience, Hawthorne introduces the theme of duplicity.

By the time Goodman Brown enters the forest, Hawthorne immediately indulges the reader into the theme of duplicity by introducing the first man that Brown meets: himself. “As nearly as could be discerned, the second traveler was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance to him, though perhaps more in expression than in features” (2259).

Hawthorne describes the elder as having “an indescribable air of one who knew the world” (2259). Both Brown and the duplicate self that he meets exhibit different personalities. Young Goodman Brown exhibits a young boy who is afraid, a timid person who would rather turn back than endeavor on his own curiosity. “Old Goodman Brown”, on the other hand, can be described as omniscient and bold, unafraid of the darkness, or more so willing to be filled by it. As the younger personality wishes to turn back because of his “Faith”, the elder convinces him to move on, and the dual nature of Goodman Brown continues to wander towards the second world.

As the two natures of Goodman Brown continue to move on, Hawthorne further emphasizes...