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What Is Young Goodman Brown Symbolism

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The Darkest Hour Can be the Most Illuminating How does one define evil? It is universally thought of as bad, negative, harmful, vicious, corrupt and wicked. In all of humanity there stands an image or figurative concept of evil, differing from each culture of the globe. Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1836—enunciated a theory of symbol in his first book Nature, that retained validity through much of the century (Dunne 107). A fundamental doctrine of many mid nineteenth century American writers was a belief in the symbolic authority of nature (Dunne 107). Nathaniel Hawthorne has intended to emphasize that no single person can endure the escape from the devil’s nature in his short story “Young Goodman Brown”. Using an abundant amount of symbolism, Hawthorne…show more content…
Renowned psychiatrist, Carl Jung, who was one of the founders of analytical psychology, made a statement about journeys. “The dread and resistance which every natural human being experiences when it comes to delving too deeply into himself is, at bottom, the fear of the journey to Hades” (Jung 244). Young Goodman Brown felt compelled to take a journey into the woods. The woods have a symbolic meaning of the unknown, the scary and the untamed, not unlike a fearsome imagination of Hades. Brown fears evil prowling in the woods, projecting his own fears onto the trees and wind, everything seems to be daunting to Young Goodman Brown. Though fearful and suspicious, Brown continues with his journey. Taking a journey will result in a gained wisdom. In this case, the young man discovers hidden aspects of the human spirit. To think of a spiritual journey, one would likely assume taking a journey into lightness and goodness. A spiritual journey cannot exist without the presence of darkness. It is a necessity for all things to have an opposite, to create balance. There is no darkness with light, no bad with the good, our universe subsists of all opposites that complement each other. The journey into the woods for Young Goodman Brown just so happens to be on his dark journey to the realization of evil that exists in his world. Perhaps there are not really…show more content…
As soon as this fear arises, a mysterious traveler appears. This traveler is associated with being the devil. The devil is prevalently known as a symbol for evil. Especially when considering this evil spirit from a religious standpoint as Young Goodman Brown does. A black staff accompanies this devilish traveler. The black color signifies evil and the staff was described as a great, black snake. The snake continues as a biblical symbol for the evil one, as a serpent in the Garden of Eden that tempted Eve to commit the original sin. The traveler that carries the black, snake-like staff, happens to be Brown’s guide through the woods. Young Goodman Brown is not in safe hands. The goodness that survives in Brown can sense that he is in possible danger. Trying to refuse to go further into the woods, the evil traveler convinces the protagonist to do otherwise.
As Brown continues into the woods with the evil guide, a member of the church comes by. This is Goody Cloyse, Young Goodman Browns childhood catechism teacher. The name Goody is ironic, as we soon learn she has acquaintance with the devil. Hawthorne purposely gave this character the name “Goody” to mock the hypocrisy he discovered throughout the Puritan
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