What is revealed in the first seven paragraphs about the characters of Goodman Brown and Faith?

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winston-smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Nathaniel Hawthorn’s haunting short story, “Young Goodman Brown”, the reader learns several things about the characters Goodman Brown and his wife Faith.

Let’s look at Goodman Brown our titular character. Goodman Brown believes in his faith both in the religious sense and the literal sense of Faith his wife. Hawthorn uses Faith Brown’s wife as a symbol for his religious faith.

"What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought, as she spoke, there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done to-night. But, no, no! 'twould kill her to think it. Well; she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven."

Brown notes that his journey is one that could damage his faith but he ends this thought deciding that once it is over he will stick to his faith and go straight to heaven.

Goodman Brown also shows determination. He mentions his wariness about his undertaking of that night, yet he goes through with it.Though he is held somewhat by Faith, the text reads, “With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose.” Brown is determined to see his journey through.

Faith in the beginning of the short story is as the text says “aptly names” though her words and actions contradict this trait in herself. Faith doubts and is fearful.

Faith says, “pr'y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she's afeard of herself, sometimes.”

Here Faith doubts that her husband will return unharmed. She also expresses the fear that she has representing a lack of faith to keep her safe. Though she attempts to mask this fear by saying that things will be good when Brown returns, she still shows concern when Goodman Brown turns back and sees her still watching him. Goodman Brown even calls attention to her doubts saying, “What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married!" Though Faith represents Goodman Brown’s religious faith, and in this sense she is “aptly named” she lacks the faith in her husband and herself.

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Young Goodman Brown

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