Goodman Brown and his “Faith”
In the story of “Young Goodman Brown” Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism throughout the story to give it a deeper meaning. Brown’s curiosity has led him into a forest full of temptations. As humans, we have a sinful nature which can sometimes overpower our conscience.
“Young Goodman Brown” is a world recognized literary piece that combines both remarkable symbolism and wisdom to create classically applicable themes. There are several great criticisms that discuss the theme and symbols of this story.
Nathaniel Hawthorne leaves the question unanswered of whether Goodman Brown really experienced such a night, or if it was all a dream. The author goes on to tell that aside from this question, the events of that night negatively affected his life. Throughout the whole story there is a dream vs. reality concept. Even after finishing the story you don’t know if it was a dream or reality. Hawthorne intended for the reader to come up with their own idea which would allow each reader to interpret it differently. Here is what critics have to say. Hawthorne himself refers to Brown’s journey as a “fearful dream” that led him to become a cold-hearted man (Hawthorne 594). Most critics agree that his journey was only a dream. Paul J. Hurley suggests that “a more acceptable interpretation of the ambiguity of the story is to see in it Hawthorne’s suggestion that the incredible incidents in the forest were the product of an ego-induced fantasy, the self-justification of a diseased mind” (Hurley par.20). Critic E. Arthur Robinson refers to the journey as “The Vision of Goodman Brown” and discusses “the significance of Brown’s vision”(Robinson par.1, 13). Leo Levy is another critic that is convinced Brown’s night in the forest was a dream. “We may believe that the interval is a dream, even though we cannot know when it begins” (Levy par.19). Richard Cook states that Brown’s night in the woods is “a fearful dream that is part of our...