The Use of Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown

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  • Topic: Nathaniel Hawthorne, God, Devil
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  • Published : October 19, 2010
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“The Use of Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown”

“Young Goodman Brown,” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1835, is a short story about a man named young Goodman Brown who leaves his wife, Faith, to go on an errand into the woods with the devil. Faith begs Goodman Brown to not leave her alone, but he chooses to go anyways. This short story shows many signs of symbolism, such as the forest, the devil, the staff, the pink ribbons, Faith, sin, and guilt. These symbols help in understanding the story of young Goodman Brown and his unconscious struggle with his religion. The trip not only takes Brown onto a journey of sadness, but also into the deepest parts of his soul. Goodman Brown wishes to enter the dark forest of sin, to satisfy his curiosity about the happenings there and perhaps even to take part in them. The traveler who meets Brown in the forest represents the devil; his staff is a symbol of the devil as a serpent. “Come, Goodman Brown!” cried his fellow traveler, “this is a dull pace for the beginning of a journey. Take my staff, if you are soon weary.” (Paragraph 10). An example of someone who faced similar temptation by the serpent is Adam; he faced the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Brown faces the same kind of temptations because he is curious to learn forbidden knowledge that goes against his faith. However, Adam is enticed by the Tree of Knowledge, Brown is enticed by the entire forest.Faith represents not only Young Goodman Brown’s wife but also his religious faith and his faith in others. Faith begs Brown to stay with her but he goes into the woods anyways. “My love and my Faith,” replied Goodman Brown, “of all the nights in the year, this one night must Itarry away from thee.” (Paragraph 5). This is symbolism of Brown leaving his spiritual faith in God and choosing the path of the devil. Another symbol of Faith are her pink ribbons which symbolize innocence. But when Faith appears at the witches' sabbath, she loses her innocence which makes Brown...
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