The Importance of Dreaming in Young Goodman Brown
Minuscule, barely-recognizable waves emanate from the center of the pastor’s glass of water with every increasingly solid thud of fists upon wooden podium. Blood rushes to his head with every beat of his heart to fuel the rampid, raging fire within his mind. Louder and louder the minister’s voice rose ‘till it seemed as though the heavens themselves could make out a faint whisper of the good news. The good news being told that glad morning told of a man who insisted upon harboring guilt, shame, and fear inside his heart. It told of a man whose heart resembled that of a man sitting two rows back of the alter in that very sanctuary. The story, having done its job, had already penetrated that lonely, dreadful heart long before, when the pastor still held fast to his wits. The poor man simply sat, hunched over, his Bible resting upon his leg, starring at the glass of water on the podium as if losing count of the ripples might cost him his salvation. All around him sat the aristocracy of the town; the rich, the confident, the beautiful, the holy, the righteous, and the rest of the Christian faith. Deeply in listful dream, the young man contemplated the words of the minister and their pertinence to himself. Over and over, these words pierced and jabbed at his heart, urging him to repent of his sinful desires he’d encountered just days before. Suddenly, seemingly without warning, all his fellow churchmates rose to their feet and began to sing. It was the last hymn of the morning! Awakened from his transient slumber, he too stood to his feet to praise his God.
Doubtlessly, all across the country men and women sit amongst fellow followers in the same state of mind, questioning their faith and battling with sin and desires experienced just days or even hours prior. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s "Young Goodman Brown", a young man by the name of Goodman Brown battles with these same feelings of guilt, shame, and fear. Through the incorporation of dramatic symbolism and allegorical ideas, Hawthorne creatively portrays Young Goodman Brown’s dream and, through this dream, orchestrates his unbelievable revelation of truth. Clearly seen in the conclusion of the short story is evidence of Brown’s dream and its ensuing effects. As part of his allegorical writing style, Hawthorne compares the short story’s setting with that of various Biblical settings. His amazing command of symbolism brings to life hidden truths found in Brown’s dream. And as many dreams often are, Hawthorne weaves throughout small threads of ambiguity, deliberately leaving the reader, and often the dreamer himself, confused. The reader is left with an allegory that ultimately applies to himself.
Upon closer examination of the concluding texts of "Young Goodman Brown", one can clearly see the intent Hawthorne has for the reader. Hawthorne clearly states, "...alas! it was a dream of evil omen for young Goodman Brown" (104)....