Character Analysis in “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Young Goodman Brown recounts the riveting vision of a Salem young man. In a dream, Goodman Brown comes to a defining moment with evil and is forced to observe the nature of evil in the world. An analysis of Goodman Brown’s character reveals that every man has at some point in his life the ability to choose evil over good through temptation. Goodman Brown starts as a religious man, but his character continues to change after encountering the devil in the world and then questions what he believes in his life.

‘My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians, since the days of the martyrs” (Hawthorne, 2012). With this quote, the reader can tell that Goodman Brown is a pious man, but he is still very curious. He acknowledges the goodness of his family members, and the village. To feed his curiosity he leaves behind Faith, his wife, knowing she is scared to stay behind alone, so he can walk through the woods at night. Although he knows this is not a good idea because of the evil that he may encounter, he asks Faith to pray so that she won’t be frightened.

Goodman Brown starts doubting everything he once thought was good. He is so blinded by his beliefs that he does not believe what the man, he comes upon in the road, tells and shows him about the “good people.” As much as Goodman Brown wanted to ignore what the man was saying, it was impossible not to acknowledge what his eyes saw. Once, he started seeing people he knew associated with the devil, he wanted to go back to his wife. He was still confused about what he was seeing and begged to go back. This is the moment; the author makes it a point that every man can be tempted.

The devil shows him tempting situations to make him doubt and realize that what he thought was not real. There is more to a person than what they want everyone to see. It is as if he was scared to see more than he could handle. Once, he saw Faith there along with other people he believed were Christians, he started doubting everything he was about. Seeing Faith there was his turning point. This was the one person he wanted to go back, because it is assumed that he felt safe around her. Faith was home for him, and now that he knew she was a lie as well was heartbreaking and infuriating.

Once, Goodman Brown made it back, there was no way that he could look at everyone in the village, the same way. He could no longer believe what the village was trying to portray. He was doubtful, mad and confused of how people could pretend they were Christians but yet met the devil in the woods in the middle of the night. He could not even see his wife without doubting her. Goodman Brown had every reason to doubt because of everything he had seen in the forest.

In conclusion, an analysis of Goodman Brown’s character reveals that every man has at some point in his life the ability to choose evil over good through temptation. Young Goodman Brown discovers that as he reaches the end of the road, he has encountered evil along the way even though he was a good person temptation arose. He tried his best to stay good, but he knew that once he stepped into the forest, he would become tempted by the devil to change. These changes make him believe that he cannot trust anyone ever again. He feels that everyone has lied about themselves and now he must be guessing if they are truly Christians or just pretending to be someone they are not. Overall, he would never be the same young man that he was before he went into the forest that day. He had learned that no matter how good you can be you can be tempted as well.

Work Cited

  1. Ellis, Robert P. “Young Goodman Brown.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition, Jan. 2004, pp. 1–3. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=103331MSS24879240001085&site=lrc-live.
  2. Lawson, Benjamin S. “Young Goodman Brown.” Masterplots, Fourth Edition, Nov. 2010, pp. 1–3. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=103331MP432129820000865&site=lrc-live.
  3. McHugh, Diana. “The Difficulty of Choosing Good Over Evil.” Literary Theme: The Difficulty of Choosing Good Over Evil, Mar. 2006, pp. 1–2. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lfh&AN=18893042&site=lrc-live.
  4. “Young Goodman Brown.” Google Books, Google, books.google.com/books?id=ACTsAgAAQBAJ&lpg=PP4&ots=ShihSDqRtu&dq=young goodman brown&lr&pg=PP4#v=onepage&q=young goodman brown&f=true.

Cite this paper

Character Analysis in “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. (2022, Mar 19). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/character-analysis-in-young-goodman-brown-by-nathaniel-hawthorne/



What are three themes in Young Goodman Brown?
The three themes in Young Goodman Brown are Puritanism, Good and Evil, and Guilt.
What do the characters in Young Goodman Brown represent?
The characters in Young Goodman Brown represent the average Puritan person. They are all seemingly good people with a dark side that is revealed when they are put in certain situations.
What type of character is Young Goodman Brown?
Young Goodman Brown is a characters who is easily led astray and has little faith.
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