Young Goodman Brown

Topics: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Young Goodman Brown, Short story Pages: 4 (1266 words) Published: April 29, 2002
Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown.
Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes symbolism throughout his short story Young Goodman Brown to impact and clarify the theme of good people sometimes do bad things. Hawthorne uses a variety of light and dark imagery, names, and people to illustrate irony and different translations. Young Goodman Brown is a story about a man who comes to terms with the reality that people are imperfect and flawed and then dies a bitter death from the enlightenment of his journey through the woods. Images of darkness, symbolic representations of names and people and the journey through the woods all attribute to Hawthorne's theme of good people sometimes do bad things.

The use of dark imagery throughout the story gives you a sense of fear of the unknown that lies ahead of Goodman Brown on his journey. The beginning sentence of the story illustrates an image of a sunset and the approaching of night as Goodman Brown sets off on his mission. "Young Goodman Brown came forth, at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold." (196) Here, the light of the sun represents the knowledge that Goodman Brown already has. The imagery of darkness setting in is the unknown knowledge Goodman Brown is out to discover. Goodman Brown must first travel through the darkness of the unknown before he reaches the light of enlightenment and truth that is why he is embarking on his journey throughout the night hours. "My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done ‘twist now and sunrise." (197)

The next use of symbolism is the setting of the journey and meeting in the woods. Early Americans looked at the woods as a test of strength, bravery and endurance. It took a lot of courage for someone to enter the forest because it was unknown territory and they would not emerge the same. "He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all gloomiest trees of the forest…that the traveler knows not who may be...
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