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The Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown

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The Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown

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The short story "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne narrates a character's religious journey over the course of a night and how it reflects on his life later. Goodman Brown, a good and kind man, navigates a plethora of situations on his quest for a small taste of ungodliness. The story takes a deeper meaning with the symbols used. Symbolism in "Young Goodman Brown" is shown through the characters, the setting, and the individual objects represented.

Goodman Brown and the Devil are the main characters in the story, while Faith, is mentioned by name often. The names Goodman and Faith represent a deeper meaning. Goodman could be most likely associated with "good man." Faith, Goodman's young, sweet bride, is used as a double meaning throughout the entire length of the story. When Goodman says, "Faith kept me back awhile" (404, Paragraph 12), it could be taken as either his wife, or his religious convictions that holds him from coming forth sooner. The Devil, is only referred to directly by that specific title once. He represents evil, deceit, and turmoil.

Through the duration of the story, Goodman spends most of his time waling along a path through the woods. The path, which is a symbol of his religious expedition, is described as "a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest tress of the forest, which stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind" (404, Paragraph 8). The farther he ventures into the darkness, the more difficult it appears to go back, thus driving him on to where to path is getting progressively easier to travel. This shows that it is easier to walk to path of least resistance, but not always wise.

The individual objects in the story also hold symbolic significance, specifically the two staffs contributed by Goodman's sinister companion. The first staff "bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent" (404,...