Young Goodman Brown is a short story by the popular US writer Nathaniel Hawthorne. The events are staged in 17th-century New England, skillfully depicting different characters and themes in the village called Salem in the state of Massachusetts. The colors, names of the characters, animals, and objects described in the story are full of symbolism, carrying special meaning to the reader. Goodman Brown, as his name suggests, is a kind young man who became recently married and who has to attend to some urgent errands leaving his wife for a short period of time. Faith is Goodman’s wife, symbolizing purity and faith to the husband, as also evident from her name.
Whilst the first name of protagonist is a symbol of holiness, last name ‘Brown’ may be interpreted as having the meaning the person has a dubious character. The story shows a young man who, despite his strong desire to live a decent life, doubts his faith: his wife asks Goodman to stay with her, but he makes a decision to go to the forest at night. In the forest, Goodman meets an old man who looks very similar to him (symbolizes himself in the old days). The old man carries a walking stick in the form of the serpent. In this regard, the cane symbolizes evil spirits, which Goodman has to accept and fight. The forest symbolizes confusion and uncertainty, which make the young man doubt his faith. Furthermore, the forest symbolizes confusion and darkness. At a certain point when Brown meets his wife in the forest at night he doubts her and hence questions his Faith.
At the beginning of the story, Faith is depicted as a virtuous young woman. She has pink ribbons in her hair that symbolize purity of thought and character. She is a sheer present to the Young Goodman Brown who seems lost and confused until he gets married. Faith does not get shaken by things of the world unlike her husband. The two characters also symbolize the development process of a man and a woman. Young men are energetic and often prone to losing their moral decency before they settle down in a marriage. They may lack vision and doubt their purpose in life.
Young Goodman Brown when lost in the forest sees Faith drop her pink ribbons. It was symbolic that the young man believed so rapidly that his wife had become immoral and lost her purity. In reality, Goodman Brown was lost in his thinking; it is especially evident when he comes back home and finds himself in the arms of Faith. Therefore, this event symbolizes yet another feature of life when men get lost and regain themselves after finding the right woman who helps them recover their confidence and have clear vision.