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In Young Goodman Brown Hawthorne Reveals His Feelings About His Puritan Ancestors




Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, "Young Goodman Brown," takes place in the 17th century in Puritan New England. It is a tale of a young man's journey into the woods, where he discovers the true nature of the people he has grown up with and the community in which he lives. Hawthorne's portrayal of the Puritan community reflects his feelings towards his Puritan ancestors and their strict religious beliefs. This essay will examine how Hawthorne reveals his feelings about his Puritan ancestors in "Young Goodman Brown" through his use of symbolism, characterization, and themes.


Hawthorne uses various symbols in "Young Goodman Brown" to reveal his feelings about his Puritan ancestors. The most prominent symbol is the woods, which represents the unknown and the darkness that lies within humanity. When Goodman Brown enters the woods, he is stepping into a world that is foreign to him, a world that is not controlled by the Puritan religion. The woods also represent temptation, as it is in the woods that Goodman Brown is tempted by the devil and his followers. The devil himself is a symbol of evil, and his staff, which resembles a serpent, is a symbol of temptation and sin.
Another symbol in the story is the pink ribbon that Goodman Brown's wife, Faith, wears in her hair. The ribbon represents purity and innocence, which are two qualities that Hawthorne admired in the Puritans. The fact that Faith is wearing the ribbon suggests that she is pure and innocent, and therefore, not involved in the evil that is taking place in the woods. However, when Goodman Brown sees the ribbon on the ground, he realizes that even Faith is not immune to the temptation and sin that exists in the world.


Hawthorne's characterization of the Puritan characters in "Young Goodman Brown" also reveals his feelings towards his Puritan ancestors. Goodman Brown is portrayed as a naive and innocent young man who is easily swayed by the devil's promises. His faith in the Puritan religion is shaken when he discovers that even his own family and friends have succumbed to sin. This suggests that Hawthorne believed that the Puritans were too focused on outward appearances and were not truly committed to their religious beliefs.
The other characters in the story are also portrayed as hypocrites who are not what they seem. The town elders, for example, are respected members of the community who are supposed to be upholding the values of the Puritan religion. However, they are revealed to be followers of the devil and are involved in secret meetings in the woods. This suggests that Hawthorne believed that the Puritans were not as morally upright as they appeared to be.


Finally, the themes of "Young Goodman Brown" also reveal Hawthorne's feelings about his Puritan ancestors. The most prominent theme in the story is the hypocrisy of the Puritan community. The Puritans were supposed to be living according to the strict moral code of their religion, but Hawthorne suggests that they were not living up to these ideals. This theme is illustrated through the characterizations of Goodman Brown and the other characters in the story.
Another theme in the story is the idea that everyone has the potential for evil. Hawthorne suggests that even the most virtuous and innocent people are capable of succumbing to temptation and sin. This theme reflects Hawthorne's belief that the Puritans were too focused on the idea of original sin and did not allow for the possibility of redemption.


In "Young Goodman Brown," Nathaniel Hawthorne reveals his feelings about his Puritan ancestors through his use of symbolism, characterization, and themes. He portrays the Puritan community as hypocritical and not living up to the ideals of their religion

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