Book #34

Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Hawthorne's classic tale of a young Puritan's meeting with the Devil.

Ah, the pain of realisation. Poor Goodman Brown wanders into the woods in pursuit of evil, and finds it. It’s something to consider, the sudden realisation that all is not as you previously thought, that all the good people you know have their own secret sin, their own dark passions, and that the world you used to know is now plagued by questionable morals.

Hawthorne’s heavy use of imagery, mostly religious, makes things quite easy to predict. If you don’t realise the figure leading you into the woods, as he leans on a serpent-shaped staff, is the big man from below, then I don’t know what to tell you. Of course this all happens in Salem, where frolicking with demons in the woods seems to be a town sport, if literature and lore is anything to go by.

I loved the writing style and some of Hawthorne's phrasing, to the point where I will seek opportunity to use "rampant hag" in conversation as soon as I possibly can.

Hawthorne’s ambiguous ending initially disappointed me until, after reflection and some thoughts from others, I realised it matters not one bit. The impact of the events in the woods affected Brown so deeply that the rest of his life was spent in doubt, suspicion, and agony. Which makes me wonder - is it better to think well of people until they disappoint, or is it more painful to distrust and suspect them?

He’s a good one for inciting the brain into action, is Hawthorne. Goodman Brown will be on my mind for quite some time, poor old boy.