Hawthorne, ''Young Goodman Brown''
"Too far, too far!" exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. "My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We 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 ever took this path and kept--"
"Such company, thou wouldst say," observed the elder person, interrupting his pause. "Well said, Goodman Brown! I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and that's no trifle to say. I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem. And it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip's War. They were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight. I would fain be friends with you, for their sake."
While I am assigning the version of the story in Writing about Literature, the full text is available in several places online, such as http://scarlet.nscc.mass.edu/hawthorne/ygb.html
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As I began to read Young Goodman Brown, I thought it was interesting the way that Hawthorne writes. For example, in the beginning of the work he says "He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees in the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind." Even though this is talking about the beginnning of his journey into the woods, it also shows the way that he feels about what he is doing. He feels that everything is closing in around him, and he feels badly about the errand that he has to complete, and that once he embarks on this journey, there is no turning back.
My favorite quote from this story is "The fiend in his own shape is less hideous, than when he rages in the breast of man."
When Brown was walking with his traveling companion, he knew he was the evil one and could deal with that. When he ran into problems was when he was confronted with the evil in the people he had held on a pedestal his whole life. For example, his father and grandfather. He said "We 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 Brown, that ever took this path, and kept"-
It is hard for him to admit that the people he has admired and looked up to as role models could have this evil in them.
I agree with Stacy. I thought it was interesting the way that Hawthorne used the imagery of the dark, gloomy forest to set the stage for the evil that was about to take place.
I found this selection of Hawthorne very easy to get into because of the vivid picture of the forest he paints. His choice of words really brings the reader right into the forest with the haunting sounds. It seems like Goodman Brown finally faced a lot of unknown reality when he was traveling through the woods. I think he confronted the idea that there is much evil in his community, even behind the people who seem faithful in his eyes. When he says, "Think not to frighten me with your deviltry!...and here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you!", I think he is expressing his fear that evil will overtake him too. He is becoming more afraid through his travel and the sounds in the woods.
When reading this selestion from Hawthorne, immediately I was overcome with the feeling of impending doom. From the beginning of the text, when Goodman Brown was leaving his home, I felt as though something bad were going to happen. HIs wife, Faith, also felt the same way.
Faith--- I'm not sure whether or not her name has any significance in this text, but the fact that the story has to do with the occult and his wife's name is something of a holy matter seems kind of contradictory. As if Faith were holding him back or something like that.
The one quote in this short story that really struck me as sinister was on page 312 when Goodman Brown and his companion approached Goody Close and she shouted "The Devil!" It was at this point that my thoughts had seemed true.
This story creeped me out. Also, the ending, and the fact that Goodman Brown was never happy again bothered me. What exactly happened in those woods? Gimme your thoughts.
I also agree with Stacy. I think that the way in which Hawthorne described the woods and the way he portrayed Goodman Brown feelings when leaving for his journey helped to set the dreay, evil mood for the story. Also, the fact that he is called "Goodman" Brown seems to be a sort of contradiction, does it not?
While reading this selection this quotation stood out to me, “In truth, all through the haunted forest, there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown.” I found it interesting that Hawthorne described Goodman Brown as the most frightful figure in the forest. Although Goodman Brown was traveling through a forest full of “frightful sounds” and “the howling of wild beasts” his determination, hurried pace, and “frenzied gestures” mad him appear unfazed by his surroundings.
While reading this selection by Hawthorne, the quotation in which he describes Goodman Brown as the most frightful figure in the forest stood out to me. "In truth, all through the haunted forest, there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown." I found it interesting that while traveling through a "haunted forest" full of "frightful sounds" and "the howling of beasts" Goodman Brown appeared to be more menacing than his enviornment. I feel that Hawthorne is refering to Goodman Browns determination and swift pace which make it seem that Brown is unfazed by his surroundings.
This selection seems to me to be a story that’s told all to often. It’s about a good man in a terrible situation. He is in a situation that is completely off the norm from his daily life. Goodman Brown leaves his lovely wife to go on some unknown adventure directly to hell, but don’t worry it was only a dream. This same theme has been done time and time again in things like short stories and Saturday’s morning cartoons. Though the way that Nathaniel Hawthorne writes of Goodman’s experiences and there direction towards Indians and other frightening things makes it quite believable, especially in the time frame in which it was written. I can’t seem to focus on one strong quote in the text, but there was one I would like to point out. “And what calm sleep would be his, that very night, which was to have been spent so wickedly, but purely and sweetly no, in the arms of Faith.” I feel that this means that this day is going to suck, but when it’s over I will be in the arms of my lovely wife. He uses it as a sort of motivation to continue.
I think that his wife's name has varying significance throughout the text, but something that seemed especially important to me was when the pink ribbon floated down and caught on the tree and Brown cried "My Faith is gone!" At this point, he has been disillusioned about so many people in his life that I think that statement is true on many levels.
The more thought I have put into this story the more I have come to a different conclusion than I originally did. I think the story is a bit of a coming of age tale. As a young person gets older, they begin to see that the people they revered in their youth are JUST PEOPLE and that they are not perfect. They have made mistakes and done things that are evil. I think that perhaps it could be a manifestation (a dream, a vision) brought to a head by these disillusionments. Unfortunately for Brown, it seems that once he saw that there was evil in everyone he stopped seeing the good that is also in everyone and did indeed lose his faith as seen vividly in the final paragraph.
"Depending upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream. Now are ye undeceived. Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness."
Now, I know that we are to apply this text to the time frame it was written. But this phrase seems to show me that it could apply to today's period as well. Think about it, "Evil is the nature of mankind." In my opinion, this is an incredibly accurate statement. With violence, lying, cheating, and so many other forms of temptation, we really go into the dark forest.
It is so hard to simply resist temptation and be a good wholesome person, Evil sits within all of us, and it's sad to say it, but it's true.
As to the people in Hawthorne's time, this short story is really a message. This short story would have seemed to have been a message to the people reading it, persuading them to be goodhearted people and to not follow sin.
A key example of this is when Young Goodman Brown tells his wife faith before he goes on his journey "Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One." That is the entire message to the people of America at the time. The story goes on about the demise of Young Goodman Brown, as he is never the same again, which carries out the message to “Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One.” People in this time period feared God, and Hawthorne shows what sin is when entering "The Dark Forest" which clearly is equalized to hell, or a satanic domain. That is one of the reasons why people never went into the forest; it was corrupted.
Think about that, and get back to me.
The point Jay made about us all entering the dark forest at some point in our lives is true. This is Hawthorne's way of showing that everyone sins because its human nature. The dark forest represents sin that everyone goes into.
A common theme in most stories, good person with a problem, how he will overcome can be told in different ways. I didnt really get into this reading. A quote i did not understand from the passage was, "Too far! too far!" exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. "My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We 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 ever took this path and kept." What is the significance of his father never taking this journey?
Good point Holly with the coming of age idea. It is a shock sometimes for people to realize that those they most look up to (parents, teachers, ministers, whatever) are human too- they make mistakes and wrong decisions just like the rest of us. It is sort of shocking to see respected people this way and can make one "lose his faith" in what they have taught us.
I agree with Holly about the fact that Goodman Brown was almost disgusted by the fact that others in his family had already walked down the evil path that he was headed on. He seemed to feel very offended that others in his family had already disgraced the family name.
One more thing to add:
I read Lauren's statement about how she was unsure if the name "Faith" had any significance. I really think that there was an immense amount of symbolism. Holly also brings up different points from the text about the symbolism of faith. I wanted to focus on the irony of how Brown focuses on his faith, but not his own reality.
I also agree with Ashley that the story is really easy to get into and understand because of the vivid imagery that Hawthorne presents in his writing. It was really easy to get into the setting of the story.
I also agree that the name Faith has some symbolism to the story. If you notice he never says anything about his devotion or even an existence of god on his hellish journey. He only brings up his wife Faith. He never says anything about his fiath in god but he does have it in his wife.
When Holly mentioned that Faith had more meaning than just the name of Goodman Browns wife it made me reevaluate the story. After taking yet another look at the reading i realized that Holly made a really good point and that her observation as far as i can see is true, and her statement is supported well by the quotation "My Faith is gone".
Lauren mentioned about not knowing what really happened in the forest, this confused me as well. I understand that he witnessed somethings that changed his outlook on life, but what happened that was bad enough to ruin the rest of his life??
This is going after what Ashley said about the fact everybody sins; everybody goes through the dark forest idea. This might be true but there is one exception that is mentioned in the story. Goodman says that this journey he takes is one that his father never took. Does this mean his father never sinned.
After reading Lauren Etling's comment, I returned to the text to reevaluate the beginning. I believe Brown's wife, Faith, has a considerable effect on the setup of the story. Brown is leaving his beautiful and innocent wife to embark on a frightful and lonely journey that he would obviously rather not take. Hawthorne writes, "He looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him, with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons." Could this be a vague attmept on Hawthorne's part at foreshadowing? Afterall, in the end of the story, Brown has returned from his journey/nightmare and finds, despite the apparant beauty of the world, a sadness and evil looms behind it, even in his Faith.
While the Puritans and bible thumpers of the Jonathan Edwards/fire and brimstone period may agree with you, Jay, I find one of your selected quotes debatable. "Evil is the nature of mankind" in my opinion, largely reflects the time period. Call it transcendental but I must agree with the minds of Emerson and Thoreau that 'Evil is the choice of mankind'.
Brandon and Tom, consider at what point in the story Brown makes that claim about his father.
After the climax of the story, do you think Young Goodman Brown would still claim that his father never walked this path?
I agree with Jillian because I think Hawthorne is definitely foreshadowing through Faith. When Goodman Brown looks back one last time, it shows that something bad is bound to happen to him because he is leaving such a beautiful thing.
On Tom and Holly's comments, I also saw the significance of Faith's name. I noticed that at times, when some people lose someone that they love, they tend to lose faith in there religious beliefs, which is kind of what Goodman had said. "It was strange to see, that the good shrank not from the wicked." This shows humility, because no one on earth is above sin, no matter what religious group.
While reading this story, at first I was really confused as to why Goodman Brown was going into the woods at all. But as the story progressed, it seemed to me that it was his "faith" that was drawing him to the woods. He wanted to badly to believe that everyone in the town was as good as they were portrayed to be. Like by day they were one person, and by night they acted in a totally different manner. I think this story was made to show that everyone has sins lurking somewhere in their past. That no one person is perfectly pure.
I think Faith, played a huge part in this story. If it wasn't for HIS faith in being a saint, and not sinning, he wouldn't have been so miserable at the end. He described his wife, whose name just so happend to be Faith, like an angel, and even the other traveler in the woods told him to turn back if him proceeding meant bringing his "faith" to any harm. The one line that brought the word "faith" to having a double meaning is the line "Faith kept me back awhile." While obviously he was talking about the encounter with his wife Faith, but also his own faith could have kept him back from doing what he knew to be a sin.
The walking staff of the older man that comes along during Goodman's journey is representative of the devil. The devil was represtented as a snake in the bible, and the staff is compared to a snake in the text. Each time that the old man offers the walking staff to Goodman he's offering 'the devil' and his ways. Goodman finally takes the staff when he gets up and decides to go deeper into the forest.
In the time period of the puritons, all men were believed to be evil with the exception of the few saints hand selected by god. Therefore, the forest repersents the entire community and general conciousness of the time. This was a time before electricity and widespread forestization, hence the dark forest is on the outskirts of every good christan town. The fact that everyone Goodman brown respected was in the forest that night and in the town the next day going about their daily buinsess, clearly illistrates the dark side of every community and person of which they reside. Every commmunity has it's secrets in the shadows or not.