What is an allegory? In addition, in what way is Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" a moral allegory?
What is an allegory? Throughout my research I have found many different explanations for what an allegory actually is, but what it all boils down to is an allegory is when someone uses a very deep and complex metaphor to say what they mean. The definition of an allegory is a literary device in which characters or events are used to represent or symbolize ideas and concepts.
An allegory allows an author to convey a hidden message through symbolic figures, actions, imagery and/or events. When an author uses an allegory it allows them to demonstrate the meaning of their story without actually saying exactly what they mean, which was definitely the case in the story Young Goodman Brown. When writing a story the author can make it much more interesting by using metaphors and allegory to say what they mean. Using an allegory helps the author to paint a picture that the reader can better visualize without actually explaining what they mean and leaving it to the reader to figure out.
In Young Goodman Brown, the first instance of an allegory was the pink ribbons in Faith’s hat. Pink is a representation of innocence and beauty and girlishness and that’s exactly how Faith was portrayed at the beginning of the story. These pink ribbons also end up representing the difference between appearance and reality. In the story when Goodman Brown was in the woods and the pink ribbon falls upon him is when he realizes that he needs to save his beloved Faith. Faith appears to be sweet and innocent but in reality she may not be as pure as Brown would like to believe. When Goodman Brown realizes this he no longer sees Faith as good, but as someone he cannot trust and is very bitter toward.
The next instance of allegory in this story is the woods. Hawthorne uses the woods to symbolize a world outside of Goodman Brown’s comfort zone. It is very uncomfortable and spooky in the woods and there he sees people for what they really are. In the quiet and calm town of Salem the people appear to be good and trustworthy, but in the woods Brown sees these people as witches, devil worshipers and just pure evil. The woods is used to symbolize Goodman Brown’s deepest fears and suspicions that he has always put aside and refused to acknowledge.
Another instance of allegory is the traveler with the serpentine staff. The traveler carries a staff that looks like a snake and snakes represent evil and darkness and possibly even the devil. The reason that I think that he may be the devil is because he is very good at winning people over, strong people, people of good Christian faith. He had won over the deacons of many churches, many good men of the town and even the governor. The traveler was dressed like just an old ordinary Puritan and sometimes the devil will disguise
himself as someone that we would least suspect, just another normal person. This man is very creepy and when he touches the branch the flowers start to wilt and die, which to me says that he is very destructive. This man is pure evil and should not be trusted, but still Goodman Brown could not help listening to him and arguing with him, which was kind of like arguing with himself on right and wrong. Hawthorne could not have used a better example of allegory to say this to the reader than the serpentine staff.
The last example of allegory that I am going to write about is Faith. Faith was the name of Goodman Brown’s wife, but also much more than that. To me, the name Faith symbolized Brown’s Christian faith and the battle he fought to stay faithful to his wife, his beliefs and also his faith. He wanted so badly to believe that his wife was good and pure and he very much wished that he had stayed home with her, but in the end he realized that she may not be good at all and just the thought of that sickened him. When he realized that he could not...
Cited: Young Goodman Brown 's 'evil purpose ': Hawthorne and the Jungian shadow
Setting and Fictional Dynamics
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