Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown

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Young Goodman Brown

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s "Young Goodman Brown" is a dark story written in the form of an allegory. In the story, Brown believed his community was true in their devotion to God. Additionally, Brown believed he had a strong Puritan faith. However, the journey we were taken on, through the dark gloomy woods of Salem, in time, showed the reader that Brown was not as strong in his faith as he thought himself to be. Moreover, the respectable people of the town were not who Brown assumed them to be. Brown was confronted with temptation, in which he would have several chances to turn back, but his curiosity eventually got the best of him. "Young Goodman Brown" is a story representing people being confronted with everyday temptations. Nathaniel Hawthorne used setting, internal conflict and symbolism to describe the struggle between Brown’s feeling of uncertainty and the evil trying to pull him in.

Depending on how the story is viewed, two settings could be considered. The first setting would be Brown’s house and the second setting would be the forest. The first setting took place in 1692, around the time of the Salem Witch Trials in Salem, Massachusetts, at the home of Young Goodman Brown. The setting at the home of Brown does not have much of a description. The only thing described was the threshold where Brown tilted his head back to kiss his wife goodbye. The scene at Brown’s home could be viewed at as symbolizing his uncertainties about surrendering to the devil’s evil customs. In spite of Browns indecisive conscious to take the journey or not, Brown submitted to his impulse to follow an evil path and embarked on his journey into the woods.

The path into the woods, where the second setting takes place...

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...n passes away, his wife Faith, children, and grandchildren all followed his body to the grave, but “they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom” (Hawthorne 273).

In conclusion, Brown’s battled between his faith, struggled to overcome misgivings within himself, and came to the realization that respectable people can fall into the hands of wickedness. Throughout the story, the slow decline of Brown’s faith came with each new realization that his world isn’t as wholesome as he had once thought. In the end Brown’s faith is not his devotion to Christianity, but his faith in humanity, and losing it he is fated to isolation till no end.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Norton Introduction to Literature. 9th. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 2005: 264-273.
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