October 14, 2010
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”
Hawthorne uses a combination of character traits, setting, and imagery in “Young Goodman Brown”; suggesting an alternate meaning to the reader. Hawthorne also includes abstract objects such as the devil’s staff, the pink ribbons worn by faith, and the dark gloomy forest, creating major forms of symbolism. These literary elements incorporate themselves throughout the course of the story making it a moral allegory. Hawthorne’s most obvious use of literary elements In “Young Goodman Brown” is seen in his characters. He carefully selects character names that represent a meaning about the particular character. A noticeable use of this type of symbolization can be found in the main character Goodman Brown. The word “Goodman” symbolizes the type of person he is and also implies a double meaning regarding his ethics. Another example is Goodman’s wife who is named Faith. The use of symbolization in the name faith is constantly repeated by Goodman brown with phrases such as “Faith kept me back a while” (326) and “My faith is gone!”(330) The double meaning in the word “faith” is also used symbolically in the story to refer to Goodman Brown’s faith in god. Though not given much attention in the story, the setting of “Young Goodman Brown” contains significant uses of symbolism. A prime example of this symbolism can be established as Goodman brown makes his way into the forest. Confusion and doubt fill his mind as he continues his journey deeper and deeper into the forest, similar to the way people stray away from their closeness to God. While in the forest, Goodman Brown encounters a man who can be represented as the devil because of his smooth persuasiveness and ability to draw Goodman farther away from his faith into the forest. A short time after being led into the forest Goodman has a sudden panic attack when he sees Faith’s pink ribbon float down out...