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Loss of Innocence in Young Goodman Brown

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"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorn is a short story about Jacob, a young and innocent Puritan man, who goes on a journey where he sees the evil in the world himself. This short story is an allegorical because its characters and plot serve as symbols which express the underlying theme of the story. Hawthorne uses the symbolism to illustrate that life experiences shape your identity and help you indulge in your journey to adulthood.

The first two people we meet are Young Goodman Brown and his wife, Faith. Both of these characters represent Brown's innocence at the beginning of the story. In Donada's analysis of Brown's character, she spoke about how Brown is innocent because of his youth (2004). Brown has not been exposed to the evil and corruption in the world, due to his youth. His youth in conjunction to his first name "Goodman" infer that he is a man of good will who has yet to be exposed to the conniving ways of life. Because of his good nature, we may assume that Brown is loving and faithful to his wife. Hawthorn uses Brown's wife's name as a symbol for Brown's own faith in goodness. In addition, their relationship together represents Brown's obligation to goodness due to his Puritan lifestyle. He is forced to have a faith in goodness because all he knows and sees is goodness. Similarly, he is obligated by marriage to be faithful and loving to his wife. Brown was loyal to his wife and his religion because he thinks that is what he was supposed to do. He has never been exposed to anything different, and for that reason, he didn't make a decision to be faithful on his own.

The first time we see Brown making his own decision is when he leaves his wife to meet the guy in the woods. In his analysis of this short story, Connolly wrote that at the beginning of the story Goodman was happy with his neighbors and faithful (1956). His trip into the woods represents the beginning of his journey into adulthood. Childhood is usually a happy and stress-free time of a person's life, but in order to grow up you must be exposed to all aspects of life-whether it is good or bad. The pathway leading into the woods is long and narrow. The length and narrowness of the pathway gives him little to no room to return to his life of innocence and simplicity. He cannot return to his old lifestyle because growing up and becoming an adult is an inevitable journey that everyone has to go through in life. You cannot remain in a state of childhood.

Brown finally meets the guy in the woods, who resembles the devil. Levy states that the job of the devil is to make sure people who have faith in goodness know that evil does in fact exist in the world (1986). This is exactly what the companion is doing with Brown. He is helping him see that there is evil in the world and that his Puritan neighbors aren't innocent as they may seem to be. The first neighbor Brown encounters



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