A walk through the woods is most often a relaxing moment. Walks are a time to enjoy nature; however, Young Goodman Browns adventure through the forest was not an ordinary one.
His walk was not a typical stroll down a path. Young Goodman Brown enters the woods in a very mysterious state of mind. Mysterious meaning, non predictable. One is not able to draw an initial conclusion as to why he is doing so. It appears as though he is unsure at this point. Because of the illusions of evil that he has, I believe Young Goodman Brown entered his own evil mind the moment he stepped foot into the dark forest.
His adventure became a battle within himself. Goodman Browns story began in a little village called Salem. From there he started a journey into the woods with a strange traveler. Right from the start, I noticed that their adventure was not going to be an ordinary one. The name of his hometown, Salem, symbolized a spooky image because this is where the witch trial was at.
Even more so, Goodman Brown began his errand at sunset. The descriptive details of Young Goodman Brown that Hawthorne included added to the mysterious tone of the story. For example, as Hawthorne stated, he had taken a dreary road darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be, and there was this peculiarity in such a solitude that the traveler knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that with lonely footsteps he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude (p 62). The descriptive opening puzzled me.
I was anxious and curious to have the mysterious details of the reason Brown was going on this adventure revealed to me. I did not like how the tone was so unrevealing. I am impatient; I need to get to the point or plot right away. I was not expecting this adventure to turn into a battle with someones conscious.
I thought Brown was going to run into some type of physical complication. Not only is the setting of the adventure odd, but so is the name of his wife. The name Faith seemed to have more meaning behind it than being a simple name. I began to realize that the story was going to develop a lot around his relationship with his wife when Goodman Brown hesitated to leave on his errand. This is when he glanced back momentarily and then continued on his way.
The moment I realized the theme related to evil is when Hawthorne mentioned the devil for the first time. He said, there maybe a devilish Indian behind every tree. What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow (p 62)? I saw this as a hint to the readers that the rest of the story was to portray that the devil was in Young Goodman Browns conscious. Before this point in the story, I was lost. I had no clue as to what was going on.
I had originally thought that Goodman Brown fell asleep and he started to have a dream. But, I eventually realized that these were all random thoughts that were running through his head. He never fell asleep. Another peculiar characteristic that sparked my interest was the old traveler. He seemed to have a definite mission on his adventure with Brown.
He was focused on staying on track, and so this is a characteristic that made me realize this was going to be a subconscious situation. He was always eager to continue. He mentioned that he had once aided Young Goodman Browns grandfather and father in some evil deeds. These included setting fire to a village and the lashing of a Quaker woman. The traveler then stated that he walked the path with each of them, and each one of them returned in a happy state of mind.
Through this, I gained an understanding that both his grandfather and father were questioning their faith. However, both his father and grandfather succeeded and remained loyal to their beliefs. Neither of them became caught up with evil, and they were able to continue with a positive outlook on life. Other situations in the story include running into Young Goodman Browns catechism teacher, Goody Cloyse. This moment was mysterious because he could not figure out why she would be in the woods.
The traveler seemed anxious to leave her behind. He seemed as if she was a distraction to his companion and strongly suggested that they move on. Through the words of Hawthorne, the old traveler mentioned that he was going to take a cut through the woods until they left this Christian women behind (p 64). This was when Goodman Brown appeared to leave all his Christian background and morals behind him. Everything he was ever taught to live by was brushed aside. He no longer seemed to care about what used to have meaning in his life.
At one point, he was tempted to stop following the traveler along the path and return to Faith. Just as he stopped to rest, he visualized more images and heard other sounds. This all symbolized his guilty conscious; however, he continued to walk onward despite of difficulty and opposition from his morals. Now that Goodman Brown had drifted away from the true meaning of his life, he appeared to lose all control over the situations that he faced.
An example of this is when he touched a branch and his fingers became withered and dried up. The tramping of horses was another example. I was not convinced that these illusions were consciously occurring; rather, they appeared to be symbols of his guilty conscious. To go along with the horses and the touching of a branch, he also overheard a conversation. The individuals were discussing plans for an ordination dinner. Hawthorne made it known to Young Goodman Brown through one of the characters that there was “a goodly young women to be taken into communion (p 66).
As one can see, each one of these occurrences were not really happening. Further into the story, Goodman Brown said his heart felt sick. He then looked up and doubted that heaven existed. To me, this proves that he had lost all meaning in his life, and he had no faith left to continue. I think, he finally realized that he lost his meaning in life; instead of trying to revert back to his old self, he joined up with the devil.
This was symbolized in the story when his wifes ribbon falls out of the sky. An analogy for this image would be losing a close acquaintance, but being left with only a memory of them. This relates to Goodman Brown because he is not the religious person that he once set out to be; however, he can remember being a considerate human being that could once appreciate the important things in life. Young Goodman Brown eventually admitted that, his faith was gone (p 67). This is when the road became drearier and the length of it began to vanish.
This showed that he could no longer determine where his actions and thoughts were going to lead him. His devilish ways caught up with him. Every move Goodman Brown made, the more abrupt and unruly he became. The final destiny of his life was revealed to him when the red light appeared. This is when Goodman Brown found himself in familiar surroundings again; unfortunately, Faith was no longer with him.
Not only did this open Young Goodman Browns eyes, but it opened my eyes to the true point of this story. This is the turning point where I came to realize that Brown was definitely in a battle with his own evil mind. He even thought he saw his mother reaching out to him. He visualized that she was warning him to fight the devil, and that she was sternly stating not to give into his unjust ways. Not only did he think he saw his mother, but he also visualized a figure that had previously been hung in Salem for witchcraft.
Once again, this proved that he was not in a good state of mind. In the very last stage of his journey, he saw Faith and he failed to acknowledge her. He had allowed the devilish train of thought to overshadow the best of him. By the end of the story, Young Goodman Brown was afraid of everyone. He did not have any trust left inside him.
Even more horribly, it was said, his tombstone lacked hopeful verse (p 71). This meant that all his experiences destroyed him. His hope was lost; the devil won in the end. For all these reasons and more, I have come to the conclusion that the adventure Hawthorne wrote about was an unordinary stroll through a forest. The adventure was definitely a mysterious one; it was one that portrayed an evil state of mind.Bibliography: