The woods in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown " hold a transformative power, a Romantic trope that is often seen in literature of this time period. In the short story, we see an young man (Goodman Brown) who feels as if he knows all there is to know...
The woods in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" hold a transformative power, a Romantic trope that is often seen in literature of this time period. In the short story, we see an young man (Goodman Brown) who feels as if he knows all there is to know about himself and his place in the world. Goodman Brown's descent into the woods holds the Romantic traits of a loss of his childlike innocence and the realization of truth while in nature.
In the beginning of the short story, Goodman Brown innocence of youth; he is unaware of the dealings taking place in the town.
"So they parted; and the young man pursued his way, until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back, and saw the head of Faith peeping after him, with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons." (6)
When Goodman Brown leaves his wife, he believes she is the picture of innocence. However, Faith's "melancholy air" foreshadows her moral failings, and Goodman Brown soon finds these as well.
Goodman Brown's trek in the woods is also Romantic in how the woods transform him by providing truth. It is often seen in Romantic literature that a youth will go into the forest and be transformed by the mysterious, natural, and unknown world. In "Young Goodman Brown," he experiences this transformation by receiving knowledge of the evil that can exist in his own town:
"And, maddened with despair...Goodman Brown grasp his staff and set forth again, at such a rate that he seemed to fly along the forest path. […] Sometimes, the wind tolled like a distant church-bell, and sometimes gave a broad roar around the traveler, as if all Nature were laughing him to scorn. But he was himself the chief horror of the scene, and shrank not from its other horrors." (50-51)