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Allegory in Young Goodman Brown

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Allegory in Young Goodman Brown

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  • November 2007
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Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Young Goodman Brown" is an excellent example of an allegory. Allegories use events, characters or symbolism as a bizarre or abstract representation of ideas in the story, and throughout "Young Goodman Brown", Hawthorne uses a heavy amount of symbolism, as well as his characters and the events of the story line to develop a religious allegory. A large symbolic role is played by protagonist Goodman Brown's wife, Faith. Also, the main event in the short story, Brown's journey into the forest, holds several major symbolic roles such as the traveler's staff, and the thick mass of black clouds. This essay will be exploring how Hawthorne used symbolism to achieve an allegory within his short story. Although she is not physically seen in the story all that often, Brown's wife Faith is repeatedly brought into focus throughout the story. Like her name signifies, Faith is described as an honest and innocent Puritan woman, "Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap while she called to Goodman Brown." (Hawthorne 1.) The pink ribbons in this quote can also represent the youth and innocence Faith seems to have. Brown's wife also symbolizes his own child-like faith; this is shown during the main event in the story- the journey through the heathen's forest. "But something fluttered lightly down through the air, and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon." (Hawthorne 6) Yet again, the pink ribbons are mentioned. This time, the falling of the ribbons from the dark clouds symbolizes Brown's loss of Faith, both in his wife and in humankind, as he hears his wife's voice draw close to evil. ""My Faith is gone!" Cleary 3

cried he, after one stupefied moment." (Hawthorne 6) Shows how Brown dreadfully realizes at once the significance of the pink ribbons in this moment. Within the forest, Brown meets with his...