Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

Penetrating the Mind of Young Goodman Brown

Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown," is an allegory rich in sexual repression. By psychoanalyzing the main character, one can discover that "Goodman Brown" is not simply a battle between good and evil, but also one of a more sexual nature.

The short story begins with an image of Brown's wife Faith, and "the pink ribbons of her cap" (Hawthorne 67). Throughout the story, the image of the pink ribbons is brought up numerous times, suggesting that they are more than just a pretty thing to tie one's hair with. Clearly there is more to the ribbons than that. The fact that they are pink shows the femininity of the woman. The fact that they bind, or secure, Faith's hair symbolizes Brown's inability to escape his predetermined role of a Puritan husband. The ribbons constantly remind him of his 'faith.' Consciously, or subconsciously, it is the ribbons of the woman that refuse to release him.

Goodman Brown's "pretty young wife" Faith, whose "hair is bound with pink ribbons," practically begs him to stay at home, threatening that "disturbing thoughts" would trouble her if he were to leave (67). Brown, instead, asks Faith to be a...

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