Stone 1 Adrian Stone Mr. Pistner American Literature 30 October 2018 Fading Reliance In “Young Goodman Brown” by Hawthorne, Brown does not initially think or express individualism and non-conformity as defined by Ralph Waldo Emerson in “Self-Reliance.” Eventually however, Goodman Brown’s character changes to become more individualist, no longer as reliant on his community and others. Emerson articulates self-reliance as a need for an individual to avoid conformity in order to discover one’s true self because “imitation is suicide” (Emerson 550). Later when Brown returns to the village, he appears to be distant and not conformed to the community as he was prior, showing him to be more self-reliant. When Goodman Brown spies Deacon Gookin and the minister in the forest, he is disturbed by what he thinks to be a devilish conversation the two are partaking in. After he overhears what they are saying, his world is flipped by two people whom he thought to be pious. Goodman Brown then immediately resorts to reliance, immediately catching “hold of a tree, for support” (Hawthorne 624). Brown holding on the tree “for support” symbolizes his reliance on others and his inability to support himself without external influence. At the powwow in the forest, Goodman Brown finds himself unable to break from his reliance on others and succumbs to evil and the devil. On the altar, the narrator says, “he [Young Goodman Brown] had no power to retreat one step, nor to resist, even in thought, when the minister and good old deacon Gookin, seized his arms, and led him to the blazing rock (Hawthorne 627). The narrator’s description of how powerless Goodman Brown is in reaction to Stone 2 the forces of evil shows his innate reliance on the larger group and his inability to act as an individual. The use of the word “led” to describe Gookin’s actions demonstrates how Brown is a follower and is voluntarily taken to the blazing rock. Hawthorne further exemplifies Brown’s powerlessness by writing that he is bound “even in thought,” showing how subconscious and deeply rooted is Brown’s reliance on others. Faith in “Young Goodman Brown” is portrayed as a double entendre, literally as religion and figuratively, as Goodman Brown’s wife in Hawthorne’s short story. After Brown leaves his wife, he is ever reliant on brandishing his Faith against forces of conceived evil: “With Heaven above, and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!” (624). Instead of standing alone with confidence before the devil, Brown shows his reliance on Faith and his religion. However later, after Brown cries, “My Faith is gone!” (625), he shows individualism and empowerment, as if a weight was lifted off of him: “Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powwow, come devil himself!” (625). Brown beckons for these forces to come to him, without any hesitation or regard to someone else for acknowledgement. He no longer needs to “expiate, but to live” (Emerson 552) to others, showing the beginning of his transition to a more Emersonian selfreliant and individualist character. After the powwow and the events surrounding it, Goodman Brown returns to the village and is depicted by Hawthorne as distant, “staring around him like a bewildered man” (628). His state of bewilderment shows that he is no longer in a state of conformity with his homogenous community and stands out. At the end of the story, the narrator describes the ending of Goodman Brown’s life and how the community viewed him, giving insight into how he had acted: “borne to his grave…followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grandchildren…they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom” (628). The conclusion of Stone 3 Goodman Brown’s life shows that his later self-reliance and individualism is recognized by the Salem community but not celebrated or accepted by many. The Puritan’s spirit of hopefulness and optimism in not exemplified in Brown so consequently he does not receive a “hopeful verse upon his tombstone,” cementing his individualist and non-conforming nature to the grave. In all, Young Goodman Brown develops Emersonian self-reliance through the events surrounding the fateful journey and transitions to become a non-conforming member of his community.