Reflections about “Young Goodman Brown” First Impressions: The story, “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is very traditional in language and style yet its theme is truly relevant in the present time. Seeing the title, I thought that the story would be boring to read because it tells about a young man with a kind attitude. From the title itself, I did not think that it would talk about human corruption and losing faith in God. As I read through, I realized that although the elements of the story such as the use of symbols, the countryside setting, and the simple characterization are quite traditional, the story delves on a controversial topic that has caused a great controversy for more than a century now. In particular, I got interested in the secrecy that Young Goodman kept regarding his journey. The guide with the serpent-like staff and the dark, still forest create a mysterious appeal that could get any reader interested. In addition, the hiding and eavesdropping that Goodman has to do in order to unlock the secret of the cult add interest and suspense to the story. As I read on, I asked questions like, “Will Goodman be saved by his faith?”, “Will the members of the cult see him?”, and “Will he die at the end?” I actually suspected that he would die at the end and give no trace of his death but I was wrong.
As Young Goodman travels the dark and quiet forest, several elements foreshadow the grimy end of his destiny. I could feel the disappointment he feels when he sees the catechist, clergyman, and other respectable people present in the cult meeting. As the story progresses, different symbols are used to present the mixed feelings that the protagonist feels, thus suggesting that all the elements in the story could symbolize something. Among these elements is the staff that the second traveller carries, which “bore the likeness of a great black snake.” The second traveller himself may represent Goodman’s own reflection for the former is said to bear “a considerable resemblance to him.” This man can likewise be considered as the shadow in Carl Jung’s (99) psychological archetypes, while Faith is the anima. Young Goodman himself bears his self, which undergoes turmoil due to the challenge of choosing between good and evil. Moreover, the reverend, the catechist, and other characters in the story could represent the environment and the different social structures that could shape a person’s behavior. In particular, Deacon Gooding could represent the Church, while the catechist could represent both the church and educational institution. As revealed in the story, human corruption and confusion is highly possible due to the evilness of the environment.
Journal Your Personal Response:
The experience of Young Goodman Brown where he loses his faith at the end after finding out that the people in the Church are the ones who lead the demonic society makes me feel cynical about religion. In fact, reading the story now has led me to think that the cult in the story is similar to the Illuminati, a secret society founded by Adam Weishaupt in 1776 according to New Advent Encyclopedia. Although the society founded by Weishaupt may be different from the Illuminati now, readers will be inclined to consider the story as an ethnographic documentation of the anti-Christ cult, which was reported recently to have ruined famous personalities in our society, including Hollywood stars such as Michael Jackson, Elvis Presle, etc. In sum, reading the story could make anyone feel cynical about the Church because as the story implies, the leaders themselves of the Church and society are the ones who lead people to lose their faith.
Young Goodman Brown is a one-of-a-kind story. Written in 1835 by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the story poses several socio-political issues that are still relevant up to the present time. First, it underlines the truth about human corruption. Second, it challenges social structures, and third, it arouses the minds of readers regarding present-day issues.
Some may claim that Hawthorne’s idea of the event is only symbolic but I believe that the meeting can be taken literally as well. The forest, the gathering of the members, and the rituals may have happened in real life during Hawthorne’s time and even up to now. I am saying this because recently, reports about the Illuminati, a secret society that deters people from practicing any religion has been very controversial. Again, others may say that the story may only be fictitious but I believe that Hawthorne is really describing a cult meeting. The reason I suspect that he is referring to the Illuminati or the anti-Christ is that he uses the most powerful authorities in the community. Similarly, according to the documentary, “The Arrivals,” which is available online at youtube.com, the members of the evil organization are the most powerful people in the world, especially in the field of entertainment. In fact, I am of the view that Hawthorne’s story is actually a piece of document that testifies the existence of the anti-Christ organization.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” 1835. The Literature Network. 2012. Web.
“Illuminati.” New Advent Encyclopedia. 2009. Web.
Jung, Carl Gustav. “Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature.” Cox and Wynan Limited, London. 1984, 99.
“The Arrivals.” 2008. Youtube.com. Web.