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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Essay on Young Goodman Brown - The Symbolism of the Pink Ribbon

Essay on Young Goodman Brown - The Symbolism of the Pink Ribbon

            Young Goodman Brown is a classic duel between good and evil.  What makes this story different though is that the battle takes place inside a person’s heart.  Young Goodman Brown accurately portrays the battle that goes on every day in every person’s heart and mind.  (Jamil S. Selina 2)  With the temptations and moral tests we experience everyday of our life, we can all relate to the story of Young Goodman Brown.  It is sad however that the devil prevailed in this story over the good.  Perhaps, the author is saying that even if the person has the power of choice and he knows the different between doing what is right and wrong, it is still possible that evil may prevail. 
This is a story of a young man who leaves his young wife Faith, whom he recently god married, to venture to the forest for an evening journey.  Faith, for unknown reasons, pleads with him not to go and wait till sunrise.  Goodman Brown, however, insisted that he has to accomplish his mission before sunrise and so the spouses parted ways.  As he goes into the forest, Goodman Brown meets an older man who was described as resembling his father and who could even be mistaken as his father.  He carried a staff which resembled that of a snake.  As they were walking along, the old man tells Goodman Brown that he knew his father and grandfather who also traveled to the woods many times in their life.  He was shocked to hear that from the old man since he knew that his father was a spiritual man.  Soon they meet an old lady whom Goodman Brown recognized as Goody Cloyse.  Goodman Brown was surprised to see Goody Cloyse in the forest as he remembered that she was the one who taught Goodman Brown when he was still a young boy and he turned to her often for spiritual guidance.  He soon learned that Goody Cloyse and the devil were friends as they conversed with each other as if they knew each other very well.  He soon learned that Goody Cloyse is also going to the forest to attend a communion of a young man.  The two proceeded to the forest and Goodman Brown was left behind to walk into the forest alone.  He soon heard two men going to his direction.  Goodman Brown recognized the two men as the minister and deacon Gookin who were going to some ordination or ecclesiastical council because a young woman was to receive a communion.  Despite his surprise in seeing the two respected men in his community, he vowed to stand firm to his faith.  Later on, as he walked deeper into the forest he heard familiar voices from people whom he recognized in his town.   He thought that these were the same people whom he had met at the communion table.  Then he saw something fluttered into the air and caught on to the branch of the tree.  That was the pink ribbon.  He shouted, “My faith is gone!” 
            As he comes to the clearing, Goodman Brown sees a group of people singing and merry making.   As he approached the people, he saw his wife.  He tells her to resist the devil but it was too late.  Then everything disappeared.  The next day, he returns home.  He sees every person in his community that he once thought were good.  He eventually lives a miserable life since he no longer trusts any person in his community now and he thinks they are all evil. 

Symbolism of Faith’s Pink Ribbon
            The story Young Goodman Brown discusses about a young man’s awakening about how evil the world is.  It explained the change in the main character of this story.  Towards the end of the story he changed in the sense that he lost his Christian faith and he had lost respect for the people in his community. 
            The words “pink ribbon” were mentioned five times in the story.  In itself, this highlights the importance of “pink ribbon” in this story.  It was first mentioned in the first paragraph, to wit: “And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap while she called to Goodman Brown.”  At this point, Faith was still wearing her pink ribbon which is a symbol that Young Goodman Brown still had his faith.  Faith could mean religious faith or faith to mankind.  During the latter part of the story this religious faith or faith to mankind of the main character will eventually be tested by the devil. 
The words “pink ribbon” was mentioned for the second time in the fourth paragraph, to wit: “Then God bless you!" said Faith, with the pink ribbons; "and may you find all well when you come back."  After much protestation, Faith, Young Goodman Brown’s wife, finally gives in to the desire of her husband to proceed to his journey which will eventually test his Christian faith.  At this point, Goodman Brown’s faith is still strong and he is determined to proceed to his journey. 
The words “pink ribbon” was mentioned for the third time in the sixth paragraph, to wit: 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 still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.”  At this point, the husband and wife finally parted ways.  The husband proceeded to his journey to an unknown destination where at one point he felt pity on Faith for leaving her.  He knew that he had to take his journey as this is the only way he could finally satisfy his curiosity about witches who are about to perform their rituals and whether his faith could endure this unusual test.  He, however, made a promise to himself that he will return to Faith, his wife, or his religion. 
The words “pink ribbon” was mentioned for the fourth time in the fiftieth paragraph, to wit: “But something fluttered lightly down through the air and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon.”  At this point, Young Goodman Brown suddenly realized that all the persons in his community whom he respected and whom he thought as pious and devout men were actually friends with the devil.  His teacher Goody Cloyse, the minister and deacon Gookin were all friends with the devil and were even present in the gathering hosted by the devil.  Even the other persons in his community were also part in the ordination.  At this point, Young Goodman Brown suddenly lost all his faith in his religion and in the people in his community. 
The fifth time the words “pink ribbon was mentioned was in the third paragraph from the last, to wit: “Turning the corner by the meeting-house, he spied the head of Faith, with the pink ribbons, gazing anxiously forth, and bursting into such joy at sight of him that she skipped along the street and almost kissed her husband before the whole village.”  At this point, Young Goodman Brown returns to his village.  He is sad but at the same time confused about what had happened the night before.  He did not know whether it was all a dream or he did take part in a witch-meeting.  One thing is sure though he will never look at the members of his community in the same way he regarded them before he went on to his journey.  

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