Symbolism and Allegory in Hawthorne`s Young Goodman Brown

Symbolism and Allegory in Hawthorne's Young
Goodman Brown
by Barry Wright
Essay: Symbolism and Allegory in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown
Pages: 10
Rating: 3 stars
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The main characters in Hawthorne's story "Young Goodman Brown" are Goodman Brown, his wife Faith and the
stranger who accompanies Goodman Brown in the forest. At the beginning of the story Brown is bidding his wife,
Faith farewell at their front door. Taking a lonely route into the forest, he meets an older man who bears a fatherly
resemblance to both Brown and the Devil. Later that night Brown discovers to his amazement, that many
exemplary villagers are on the same path including, Goody Cloyse, a pious old woman who once taught him his
catechism, but who readily shows that she certainly knew the Devil and practiced witchcraft. With Brown still
confident that he could turn back, his older companion departs, leaving behind his curiously snakelike staff and
fully expecting that Brown would follow.
Brown hides yet another time, but again to his surprise he again sees very God-fearing and respectful people such
as the minister, and deacon of his church and even - to his horror - his wife, Faith. At this point, he yields to
despair and sets forth to join in what is obviously a witches' Sabbath or Black Mass. Seconds later, Brown seems to
find himself in the forest alone, shivering and confused.
On Brown's return from his errand he finds that all seems apparently normal, but he cannot help shun his wife,
who runs to meet him in the street, Goody Cloyse and the other good people. Brown's experience in the forest
permanently blights his life. He scowls and mutters during prayers, suspects all the pious, recoils from his wife in
bed at night and finally dies sad and without hope.
Perhaps the most obviously recurrent symbol in "Young Goodman Brown" is the pink ribbons worn by Goodman's
wife, Faith. T...
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