Goodman Brown’s Journey for Initiation

Hawthorn’s short story ” Young Goodman Brown” is available for mythological or archetypal approach. However, only understand what is mythological approach can we apply it to criticizing in practice. Actually, there are various definitions for myth criticism, of which one is well acknowledged that it is ” to seek out those mysterious elements that inform certain literary works and that elicit, with almost uncanny force, dramatic and universal human reactions. ” In other words, myth criticism’s primary concern is to find out “archetypes” or “archetypal pattern”, initiated by Carl Jung.

According to Jung, the word ” archetype” was much used in ancient Greek, “arche” meaning “root” and “origin” while “typos” “pattern” or “model”. The modern concept of the archetype refers to the recurring literary phenomena such as motifs, themes, and narrative designs. To criticize “Young Goodman Brown” by using “mythological approach, we necessarily turn to Jung’s findings in psychology because there is a close tie between the them, both of whom are concerned with the motives that underlie human behavior. One of Jung’s major contributions to myth approach is his individuation as shadow, persona, and anima.

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Individuation is a psychological growing up, the process of discovering those aspects of one’s self that make one an individual different from other members of the species. For Goodman Brown, his persona is both false and inflexible. Though he considers himself both the good Christian and good husband married to a “blessed angel on earth”, in truth, he is much less the good man than the bad boy. His behavior from start to finish is that of the adolescent male. His desertion of his wife, “faith”, for example, is motivated by his juvenile compulsion to have one last fling as a moral Peeping Tom.

His failure to recognize himself when he confronts Satan, who is his shadow, is merely another indication of his spiritual immaturity. It is only fitting that his soul-image or anima should be named Faith. His trouble is that he sees Faith not his wife but as a mother. Jung believes that anima is an archetype that is manifest in men, while animus in women; thus, men’s anima was usually projected on the mother during childhood. What’s more, Jung discovers that there is a communal archetype shared by every nation’s cultural pattern, that is, dual mother.

One is physical, the other spiritual. In fact, we indeed can find some examples in certain myths to corroborate Jung’s theory though it looks like fallacy seemingly. In Ancient Greek Mythology, Athena sprang directly from his father, Zeus’ head instead of being begotten so that she knew only spiritual motherhood. Goodman Brow also faces the same problem that he recognize his wife Faith a spiritual mother as the name “Faith” indicates. It is also evidenced when he thinks that he will ” cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven. In clinical terms, young Goodman Brown suffers from a failure of personality integration. He has been stunted in his psychological growth because he is unable to confront his shadow, recognize it as a part of his own psyche, and assimilate it to his consciousness. In sum, Young Goodman Brown deserves many kinds of literary critical approaches due to its abundant connotations. It is finely wrought, elaborately designed, that readers would approach it from different perspectives after reading it. This is only a small attempt to analyze the story form the angle of psychology and archetypes.