Have you ever watched curiosity get the best of someone, or heard the age old saying curiosity killed the cat? In the story Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates this perfectly by showing just what happens when you start to question those around you. Young Goodman Brown represents an allegory by using religious imagery, character names, and struggles between good and evil. For example, the main characters’ names, Young Goodman Brown and Faith, could symbolize the innocence of youth and how temptations are always lurking. These names might foreshadow that the story is probably based on youth and faith.
When the story opens, the first paragraph states, “And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons, on her cap while she called to Goodman Brown” (Hawthorne). These lines give us insight to Faith’s youthfulness by describing the pink ribbons in her hair, thus implying that she is young and innocent. The religious aspect of the story is portrayed by Faith when Brown says, “his love and my faith;” Faith is a symbol of Young Goodman Brown’s religious values (Hawthorne).
Young Goodman Brown’s wife Faith tries to persuade him to stay home and put off his journey till morning. Young Goodman Brown seems to be struggling internally when he basically says “ Poor Little Faith, what a fool I am to leave her for such an errand and if I make it through the night I will never forsake her” (Hawthorne). These lines seem to foreshadow the conflict arising: Brown is struggling to leave his Faith and maybe his religion to complete an errand. Brown realizes that his wife Faith is fearull and conflicted with his choice to leave her; he mentions she is an angel, and after he completes this task he will follow her to heaven.
It appears that he is struggling to leave his “Faith,” and if he can just make it back home, he will worship her and follow her to heaven. When Brown leaves his “faith” to enter the dreary, dark woods, he seems to doubt his decision to enter the woods. The description of the woods symbolizes the evil that lingers. While Brown meets who is presumably is the Devil, he is met with “You are late, Goodman Brown,” said he. “The clock of the Old South was striking as I came through Boston, and that is full fifteen minutes agone”(Hawthorne).
This seems to mean that evil intentions are everywhere and that temptation waits for no one. His simple reply, “Faith kept me back a while,” speaks volumes because it shows the true conflict within Brown (Hawthorne). Not only did his wife Faith try to convince him to delay his errand until morning, but he was also wrestling with his conscious. Should he enter the woods, should he turn around and return to his wife? Still contemplating returning home, Brown tries to justify that his father never ventured into the woods, that he was a good minister, a good Christian, and that Faith’s heart would break.
The Devil ironically mentions to him that his father, grandfather, and many other noble people were acquaintances of his and that no harm would come to his “faith. ” “With heaven above and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil! ” cried Goodman Brown” (Hawthorne). The climax of the story is when Brown hears a familiar voice, who’s voice is this? As Brown is walking through the woods, he realizes that it is his wife’s voice Faith. As he agonizingly calls out her name and he earnestly tries to get her to resist temptation and choose the righteous path.
There is mention of “Young Goodman Brown seizing Faiths pink ribbons from the air as they were floating away, he then cries out my Faith is gone there is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil; for to thee is this world given” (Hawthorne). This seems to be the downfall of Browns youthful happiness and faith in humanity. Faith can mean a number of things, such as complete trust in something, someone, or a strong belief in religion. Young Goodman Brown’s faith seems to be centered around his wife Faith, as if she is his moral compass.
Once Brown believes that his Faith is lost and no longer innocent and oblivious to the wicked ways of people surrounding him, Brown turns bitter towards the townspeople. Ultimately, Brown turns from Faith and in an essence lost his faith, humanity no longer believing in the good of mankind. Once Brown realizes that even the purest of heart can be tempted to stray from their beliefs, he loses faith in himself and everyone around him. Faith is the ultimate personification of faith and it is ultimately lost, Brown dies a miserable man.