English Comp. II
9 September 2010
The Pathway to a Hard Heart
Throughout history children and adults alike have been told to do what is right, to follow the rules, told to be good. “Young Goodman Brown” is a story that questions cultural assumptions about what is true and good. It questions basic rules and customs that were, and still are, valued today. It is a story filled with stunning symbolism and passion, giving a glimpse of the battle that goes on in the human heart. The cultural implications of this short story are truly enormous and eye opening. It has a strong message that can be summarized in three points. First, it questions the sincerity and truth of the common religious standards of the day. Second, It shows that to refuse to love people who are hypocrites is arrogant and will only lead to despair. Lastly, and most importantly, the story points to a greater hope that transcends both a moralistic worldview and a rebellious lifestyle.
Young Goodman Brown is a very typical young man. His name says it all. He follows the social rules and guidelines well. He wants to be just like the respected men in the community. He has already married a nice girl named Faith. Faith symbolizes her husband’s standing in the community, which is his idol. He has put all his faith in his social standing, and his wife is a way to achieve it.
The next step is to go on a journey throughout the night on some religious errand. On this errand he encounters Satan. The Devil crushes everything that his heart held dearest by showing Goodman a scene in the forest. Goodman sees all the men and women that he looked up to most in a horrific and violent ceremony, in which they are worshipping themselves and Satan. This completely shatters all his prior beliefs. He sees his pastor, elders, Sunday school teacher, and all sorts of other respectable adults all acting against their beliefs. He is so shocked and confused that he gives up his faith....