Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Rockville, MD: Wildside, 2005. Print.
In the opening scene, Goodman Brown says goodbye to his wife Faith before he leaves for his journey into the forest. After he leaves faith, he is overwhelmed, yet intrigued, by the wood’s darkness. He starts to believe that everyone he knows is evil, except Faith. The darkness that takes place in the wilderness is compelled with evil and Goodman Brown, finds himself surrounded by it. The question is what drives Goodman through the wilderness? Goodman Brown starts off his journey realizing his intentions because the narrator tells the reader, “With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose”(Hawthorne 420). The women in this story are seen as outsiders because they represent everything Goodman brown and the church are against. Furthermore, the women characters are portrayed as witches. The women with power in this story use it for evil, instead of good. The male role in “Young Goodman Brown” is dominating and reliant on the women characters. In Beauvoir’s book, “The Second Sex,” she defines otherness, “… because the male perceiving consciousness must view itself as good, the other must become its opposite; the other must represent evil.” The main female influence in “Young Goodman Brown,” Faith, embodies evil through her witchcraft and associations with the Devil.
There are many critical lenses that can be used to read “Young Goodman Brown.” There is a moral, or religious, and a feminist perspective evident throughout the short story. For the purpose of teaching this short story along with “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” I will describe a mini lesson with the theme a spiritual journey & an awakening. Throughout “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorne illustrates evil, often. There is a fine line between what is morally right and wrong in this narrative and “Young Goodman Brown,” is exposed to all of the darkness the wilderness has to offer. His spiritual awakening occurs as he realizes evil does exist. Then, he begins to question if what is god-like is the same as being morally right.
I would give out a Reading Guide for the improvement of the student’s reading comprehension.
1. Why is the title, “Young Goodman Brown,” significant?
2. How did the author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, perceive Salem, Massachusetts in 1804 according to the story?
3. How is the main character, Goodman Brown, portrayed as he enters the woods?
4. Why do you think Goodman Brown is paranoid that the wilderness is filled with evil?
5. Give three examples of specific descriptions that include the word “evil.”
6. Give three examples of specific descriptions that include the word “pure.”
7. Where has Goodman Brown landed at the end of his journey? What has changed since his departure?