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Through the Eyes of Young Goodman Brown


Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown,” is an allegory abundant in sexual repression. By psychoanalyzing the primary character, one can find that “Goodman Brown” is not simply a battle between great and wicked, however also among a more sexual nature.

The narrative begins with an image of Brown’s better half Faith, and “the pink ribbons of her cap” (Hawthorne 67). Throughout the story, the image of the pink ribbons is brought up various times, suggesting that they are more than just a lovely thing to tie one’s hair with. Clearly there is more to the ribbons than that. The reality that they are pink programs the womanhood of the female. The fact that they bind, or safe, Faith’s hair signifies Brown’s inability to escape his predetermined function of a Puritan spouse. The ribbons constantly remind him of his ‘faith.’ Purposely, or subconsciously, it is the ribbons of the female that decline to launch him.

Goodman Brown’s “quite young partner” Faith, whose “hair is bound with pink ribbons,” practically asks him to stay at house, threatening that “troubling thoughts” would difficulty her if he were to leave (67 ). Brown, instead, asks Faith to be a “great little girl and state her prayers and go to bed” (68 ). By saying this he has the ability to keep his ‘consultation’ in the forest, thus allowing him to prevent the conflict and in return keep a deal with on his feelings. This is an attempt to put her back into a position that his male ego can accept, without consciously acknowledging her sexual advances. This behavior could likewise signify his hesitation to engage in regular sexual encounters due to the fact that he believed them to be sinful, therefore triggering an emotional conflict that he could not cope with.

Goodman Brown’s experience in the forest exposes to him the sexual nature of people. Brown’s observance of this is curiously lacking revulsion. This would recommend that he is justifying his own repressed sexuality and hence pacifying his feelings of guilt by projecting his own deeply quelched id onto the most reputable townspeople. Brown’s own insecurities lead him to see that even Goody Cloys, his catechism instructor, seems to disappear with the help of Satan’s staff. Using a witch image to explain Goody also represents the evil side of women that his superego refuses to see under normal scenarios.

The man that Brown fulfills in the forest is inarguably Satan, who almost generally represents the opportunity to fulfill repressed desires and open the id. More conversation with the Satan-like figure exposes that he has had a relationship with all of Browns’ ancestors, claiming “they were my buddies … we had lots of an enjoyable walk along this path” (69 ). The guy is attempting to assure Goodman Brown that his feelings are totally normal. The figure of darkness even presumes regarding remember a few of the Brown’s forefathers’ more unsavory habits, such as the whipping of a Quaker lady through the streets of town. The details that Satan touches with everybody that Brown has actually ever appreciated, up through the governor, suggests that Brown has no moral idol to imitate. This condition prevents him from continuing to quelch his dark side through hero praise.

The staff of Satan’s “which bore the similarity of a fantastic black snake” is another sexual symbol (68 ). Goodman Brown dismisses the concept that he can’t take his eyes off of the male’s “impressive personnel” by informing himself that “it may have been an ocular deceptiveness assisted by unpredictable light” (69 ). The shadowy figure encourages Brown’s thoughts of uncertainty by stating “you will believe much better of this by and by … take my personnel to assist you along.” When Goodman Brown does eventually use the staff it is “damp with evening dew”( 71 ). This is yet another sexual image. The personnel that is described as being “twisted” and much like “a living snake” is similar to that of the image of the snake that motivates Adam and Eve to give into temptation in the Garden of Eden (68 ). The personnel of the devil is thus tempting Brown to see his own sexuality in a new light, one which he can not completely understood.

After Goodman Brown approaches the “black mass” which can be viewed as a trick which he has yet to clarify, he faces an image that he views as his mother, who urges him to turn away from the temptation (72 ). This externalization of his mother as the voice of excellent, or his conscience, shows proof of his unsettled Oedipus complex. The mere truth that he sees his mom while taking part in a sexual encounter shows his subconscious desire for her.

The revelation of his better half Faiths’ subscription in this dark community comes as the greatest shock. Brown exclaims, “I have lost my Faith” (73 ). He has lost his spiritual faith, he has actually lost his better half to the forces of evil, and he is now forced to review his personal ideal of ladies in general. The reality that Hawthorne yet again points out the pink ribbons recommends that the third interpretation has the most credibility. The ribbons are now gone and are no longer seen as binding him to Faith.

The story concludes by showing the inscription on his tombstone “for his passing away hour was gloom,” suggesting that he was not a delighted male during his life (77 ). This was because he was never totally able to attain a grasp on his own sexuality, or on sexuality period. The observation could be made that regret from succumbing to his desire and from being required to face unresolved Oedipal and other sexual problems had actually made him dissatisfied his whole life.

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