Theme of Young Goodman Brown

The theme of a story represents the central conflict going on over the course of the whole story. A story can have several themes at one time. Young Goodman Brown is an example of a story with many themes. The two major themes throughout the story are the conflict of good vs. evil and morality vs. temptation. Another more minor theme in story is person vs. insanity.

In the theme of good vs. evil, Goodman Brown is faced with the decision of staying with his Christian faith or joining the evil side. When hiking through the woods to the Satan-worshiping spot with the other man, Goodman Brown wants to go back to Salem to be with his wife since he kept up his end of the bargain. He tells the other man, "Friend, having kept covenant by meeting thee here, it is my purpose now to return whence I came." He says this because he feels like he is betraying his religion by staying with this man. Another way to relate this theme is that Goodman Brown seems like the only person the town who has not yet converted to Satanism so he may drop his Christian ways just to be like everyone else. A final way to relate it is Goodman Brown trying to protect his wife from becoming a Satanist. At the dark mass he attempts to convince his wife that Satanism is not the way to go, and that she should maintain her current Christian beliefs. This theme of good vs. evil practically covers the entire frame of the story because the whole thing revolves around a man split between going to a Satanist mass or avoiding it and remaining a Christian.

In the theme of morality vs. temptation, Goodman Brown has to either follow what he knows is right, or do what everyone else is doing. One time when he encounters this theme is when he thinks his wife is dead when he is out in the woods sitting. A pink bow falls from the sky, lands in his hands, and he thinks his wife is gone. When this happens he decides that the world is given to the devil. He gets up from his rock and runs to the mass of Satanists because he himself wants to become one, but he sees his wife when he gets there and realizes that it is not the way. His old faith taught him better then that. The only that really keeps him from becoming one in the beginning of the story is the thought that his family has always been "honest men and good Christians since the days of the martyrs." Perhaps the biggest temptation was the fact that everybody else was doing it. This conflict covers just about as much ground in the story as my first one making it as equally important.

The final theme, person vs. insanity, only covers a small part of the story. It deals with the part when Goodman Brown is sitting in the forest alone, and he thinks his wife is dead. The narrator says, "And maddened with despair, so that he laughed loud and long, did Goodman Brown grasp his staff." As he is running through the woods it tells of him laughing loudly to himself and yelling at the wind to see who is laughing loudest. He also tells the wind that it can not frighten him. The worshiping spot is where he soon regains his sanity. This is a much smaller conflict then the first two, and it covers way less.

A story can carry many conflicts, some being major and some being minor. I believe that all these conflicts put together can form one big theme through much reasoning and thinking. After doing this, I conclude that the major theme in this story is good vs. evil.

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