Round Character in “Young Goodman Brown” by Hawthorne
According to Meyer, round characters often display the inconsistencies and internal conflicts found in most real people. The term is used in fiction to portray lifelike figures who exhibit multifaceted and complex personalities. They often possess dimension and depth and undergo personal development as the story progresses. Round characters have behaviors that people can familiarize themselves with in real life. Additionally, they create intrigue through their surprising actions and complexities. “Young Goodman Brown” is a short story created by Nathaniel Hawthorn to illustrate human darkness and its journey. Hawthorn demonstrates the effects of the main character’s journey through the woods, transforming him from a hero to a victim. The protagonist of this tale is Young Goodman Brown. Initially, he is a round character thought of as a hero, firm in his spirit. In the course of the story, he undergoes a lot of development from a secure person in his faith to a disillusioned individual from God. Therefore, Goodman Brown is a round character who undergoes several instances of inner conflict, which affect the rest of his life.
Throughout the story, Goodman Brown experiences inner conflict about whether he should remain good or join the ranks of devil worshiping. He goes on a difficult personal journey through the woods at night to follow his desire to become a witch. Brown thinks about the good things he has left behind, including his wife Faith. Goodman undergoes an internal struggle, asking himself why he wants to follow the path of darkness, yet Faith is a good woman. He bids his spouse goodbye, saying, “My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done ’twixt now and sunrise” (Hawthorne 1). The statement shows that Goodman Brown had struggled within himself for a long time before deciding to go on the trip.
According to the story, Faith was a puritan who had ribbons in her hair, symbolizing innocence. Goodman thinks about his wife’s purity and tries to go back to Salem several times but is drawn into the inevitable journey. However, Faith had her secrets; she represents how society has both a dark and a light side. Faith represented purity, but at the end of the narrative, she succumbs to the devil, disputing her innocence. Goodman is drawn back to pursuing his witch desires by an older man, who is a dynamic character in the story. He seems to be a good person at the beginning of the story. However, as it progresses, there is a possibility that he could be the devil.
Finally, the internal conflict that Goodman Brown underwent destroyed his old self and created a new man. He dealt with the devil who came in the form of an old man in the woods carrying a serpent–like staff. Goodman Brown understood that it was morally wrong to pursue his desire to become a witch, which put him in a moral dilemma. Before joining the Black Sabbath, he had to decide if his true passion was in devil-worshipping or in the innocence and youth he appreciated in Salem. However, the text claims that “…Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose” (Hawthorne 1). He doubted himself and his belief in the goodness of people and their true nature after meeting the village minister and the governor, Goody Cloyse. He was reluctant to take the snake-like stuff that the devil gave him as a chosen one. Besides, the setting of the long and winding journey through the woods showed that he was indecisive. However, he gave in to the devil’s demands and followed him into the woods. He saw his wife succumb to the devil and rushed to be with her.
The experience led to a more significant change in how Goodman Brown interacted with people and society. After returning to Salem, he became cynical; Goodman lost his innocence and faith in other people in the community. As a result, Goodman Brown isolated himself from others, and the initial relationship with Faith vanished. The internal conflict and realization that Goodman went through on his journey through the woods profoundly affected his life. At the beginning of the story, Brown was a hero who believed in people’s goodness, especially his wife. However, he learned that people had some darkness in them, which catalyzed extreme changes in his development as a round character. His faith and perception of reality were destroyed, exposing his weakness. His journey through hell stripped him of his faith, filling him with eternal fear that made him the devil’s victim. He lost his strength of character, which had made him a hero.
To conclude, the greater meaning of this narrative lies in the existence of good and evil in society. Goodman Brown, throughout the story, undergoes immense internal conflict, which ends with changing his faith and relationships with people in the community. The personal growth and transformation that Goodman experiences develop his round character. The meaning of this story is similar to my experience in life. At some point, I experienced a battle between opposing desires. I desired to be fit and healthy, but I loved eating junk food. The internal conflict I went through was whether I should avoid junk food or stop being fit and healthy. I knew it was wrong to take junk food while exercising and dieting. However, the body, which is used to fast foods, wanted some chips, leading to an intense internal conflict. At the end of the story, Hawthorn does not tell if evil or good won in Goodman Brown’s internal fight, but this experience scared him.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Mosses from an Old Manse, Wiley & Putnam, 1846, pp. 1-10. Web.