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Have 'faith' in Women, or Have Fear

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"Have 'Faith' In Women, Or Have Fear"

In the case of "Young Goodman Brown", Nathaniel Hawthorne, interprets women to have much more depth than men, giving them the upper hand in how their relationships are shaped with the male characters. What is arguable is the interpretation that a feminist reading could be in favor of women after evaluation of Faith's influence over Goodman Brown. Women in this case have a sexual superiority that can allure and influence the male characters into having certain thoughts. For Young Goodman Brown, this temptation leads him to reject his wife, Faith, for fear of this power over him. While it may seem that Goodman Brown has control over his wife, his "faith" in this belief is shattered. When he closes his eyes he dreams of women like Faith, Goody Cloyse and numerous dames, virgins, and wretches in the woods being the superior race over his conscious decisions. He cannot get them out of his mind. What is more obvious in this parable is that women's influences over men are stronger than those of the man's influences over themselves.

Faith's character is described early in the story as young, pretty, and as Goodman refers to her, "little," (Hawthorne 1). The fact that she does not want Goodman to embark on his journey and leave her alone in the night suggests that the reader is to see Faith as helpless and too young to stay by herself without her husband. What most readers don't pay attention to is the fact that Goodman took the time to look back at his wife as he walks away. What is suggested is that there is a looming temptation for Goodman to remain with his wife. As he peers back at her, the melancholy look on her face is almost enough to convince him to stay. Her look is so convincing that Goodman decides, "after this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven" (Hawthorne 1). Whether it is or isn't a conscious act by Faith to fill Goodman with guilt, she has a sexual power over him to make him think this way. This power not only makes him turn back for one last look and reconsider his decision, but to also promise himself to never leave her side again. We see later that this is only the beginning of her allure over Goodman and the decisions he makes.

As the story continues the mysterious character leading Goodman through the woods tries to take him further down a dangerous dark path. In order to persuade Goodman to push on, the mysterious character tells Goodman that he has close relationships with Goodman's Father and Grandfather. What seems like powerful evidence on the mysterious character's side only turns Goodman back to his wife. He is so influenced by what his wife thinks of his decisions that he immediately turns to the thought of her when he says, "It would break her dear little heart; and I'd rather break my own" (Hawthorne 3). This only makes the mysterious character more persistent when he introduces Goody Cloyse on the path. Goody being the woman, who taught Goodman catechism, holds a very meaningful memory in Goodman's mind. She is a superior

Christian within the town and the fact that her righteous character suddenly turns to that of a witch, leaves Goodman disbelieving of what has happened to the good Christian woman he thought he knew. Meeting with the woman stops Goodman in his tracks and makes him reconsider the journey for Faith's sake once again. These two women have such an influence on Goodman because of the pure nature he knows them to have, that he begins to question the entire journey he has embarked on. His dedication to Faith and his fear of an unholy journey as Goody has embarked on stops him cold. Whether it is the fear of the journey or the fear of the women's power over him, Goodman is loosing faith in his decisions.

Soon after Goodman stops he begins to hear voices in the forest and one distinct voice, that of his wife, throws him into what looks to the reader like a psychotic break. He hears her passionate expression of uncertain sorrow anxiously asking for a favor that she would most likely regret asking for. It is open to interpretation of what she asks for, but contextual evidence might suggest that she is asking for sexual favors from another person other than her husband. The voice is described



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