Young Goodman Brown
Never let a man imagine that he can pursue a good end by evil means, without sinning against his own soul. The evil effect on him is certain (Robert Southey). Nathaniel Hawthornes short story of Young Goodman Brown is a story of the obvious, sinning. Sinning is an inescapable part of human nature. Hawthorne illustrates truth in his story by showing that evil is the nature of mankind and that every man harbors his own secret sin within his heart.
In the story of Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses several symbols to show how Goodman Brown cannot resist the temptation of sin. The largest symbolic roles in this story are Goodman Brown and his wife Faith. "'With Heaven above and Faith below, I will stand firm against the devil!' cried Goodman Brown. In this section, Hawthorne is showing how Goodman Brown Browns wife Faith means more than just a name, it is the spirit/power that guides Brown, his wife, and his life in general. In the beginning, Faith tries to keep Brown off the path of sin and onto the right one, but Brown slowly separates from it and falls to the dark side.
Goodman Brown falls to the dark side, or goes to the woods for an appointment with the devil. This section is showing how people can be living and doing well but all it takes is that one time to make you fall. This is symbolizing how Brown fell in real life. Once Brown was there, it was so hard for him to turn back, there was just no hope or faith left. But the only thing about him, that could be fixed upon as remarkable, was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake. This symbol is showing the power, darkness, and evil of the devil, much like what a serpent or snake might represent. Brown had now sinned and was on the dark side of his life.
During the story, a pink ribbon is mentioned. The pink ribbon symbolizes the purity and innocence involved with Faith. "And Faith . . . thrust her own pretty had into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons in her cap. This section is showing all of the faith that Goodman Brown once had. He wasnt always on the dark side, but he sinned and made his way over to the other side, which was the point where Brown decided to go with the devil.
Brown is now at the ceremony when he discovers well known people from his town are there. All of people he thought were these perfect and nice citizens are at this evil gathering. Brown doesnt understand at first, but soon figures it out and that is even highly respected people fall victim to the forces of darkness. One mans virtue is another mans sin. At the ceremony, Brown observes that what one person might believe is evil or wrong, might be totally opposite for another. In other words, whether an action is good or evil, it depends on who is viewing the action. Brown now sees how sinning and evil are the nature of mankind. It is something you almost should be ready for instead of trying to ignore. The pink ribbon is later mentioned again as it falls from the sky. "But something fluttered lightly down through the air, and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon. This is symbolizing how Brown had sinned and lost his faith completely. Brown not only lost his wife faith, but his faith in mankind as well. "Faith! Faith! Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!" This is Browns final attempt. He knows that he has sinned and is making one last attempt to save his inner faith by asking for forgiveness and look for something blessed to cling to.
From reading the short story of Young Goodman Brown, it is shown that this is not as what it seems at first. Brown was doing well in life and he made a bad decision, he sinned. Sinning is not an easy thing to avoid. Many people sin, it happens, Brown just didnt realize the impact of what he was doing until the end. Every man harbors his own secret sin within his heart.