Symbolism in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" the use of symbols contributes to the development of the story's plot. Symbolism is used as a means to uncover the truth about the characters. The author, in an attempt to manifest the moral aspects of his society, uses many kinds of symbols to support his points. When analyzing an allegory like "Young Goodman Brown", the reader must realize that the story is in its entirety, a symbol. Hawthorne, through his writing is trying to convey the contradicting aspects of the Puritan ideology. This is made evident after discovering that Goodman's father burned an Indian Village and his grandfather lashed a Quaker woman. By Hawthorne including these acts of violence, he is revealing that the perfection thought to exist in a Puritan society is not so real. Not only past but present characters contribute to this belief. In the confinements of the forest, one sees how all those who are part of Goodman's present also have a dark side to haunt them. Many argue that it was a dream. However, Hawthorne was trying to demonstrate a larger picture. Whether through a dream or reality, it is clear that he wanted to challenge the so call Utopia of the Puritan society. In many parts of the story the reader comes across symbols. Although some may be more lucid than others, one must focus on details in order to find more than the obvious. For example, the title "Young Goodman Brown" in itself holds major significance. It gives the reader a pretty good definition of who the protagonist is. Young Goodman Brown is young and therefore inexperienced, impressionable, and easily influenced. As the story continues, the reader realizes all these to be true. For one thing, Young Goodman Brown and his wife Faith,... ... middle of paper ... ...6. 5: 2737-40. Fogle, Richard, H. Hawthorn's Fiction: The Light and the Dark. Oklahoma. University of Oklahoma Press, 1964. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "Young Goodman Brown" An Introduction to Reading and Writing. Ed. Alison Reeves. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1995. Shear, Walter. "Cultural fate and social freedom in three American short stories." Studies in Short Fiction, fall 92, Vol. 29 Issue 4, p543, 7p. Swisher, Clarice., ed. "Color and Images in The Scarlet Letter." Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne. Greenhaven Press, Inc., 1996. VonFrank, Albert J. "Pretty in Pink: Young Goodman Brown and New-World." Critical Essay on Hawthorn's Short Stories, Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1991. Zanger, Jules. "Young Goodman Brown" and "A White Heron":Correspondences And illuminations. Papers on Language & Literature. Summer 90, Vol. 26 Issue 3, p346, 12p.
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