Young Goodman Brown Essay

Young Goodman Brown Essay

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Young Goodman Brown


An allegory is a narrative in which the characters and objects personify
deeper meanings than what the reader can see on the surface. The allegorical meaning is the writer’s real purpose in writing the narrative so that a lesson can be found when reading below the surface. “Young Goodman Brown”, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a perfect example of an allegorical story and is filled with many symbolic elements.
The story begins with Goodman Brown starting out on a journey. Hawthorne does not state what kind of journey or the purpose behind it. By the end of the story I saw it as a journey into Goodman Browns own mind, heart and soul rather than a literal journey. I feel this is the most significant symbolic element in the story because it stood for Goodman Brown becoming aware of the illusions of sin. This journey in the Puritan religion was intended for the person to become aware of the helplessness and the reality of sin and how to no longer depend on material things or people but to put his faith solely upon God. Goodman Brown unfortunately was blinded by the realization of sin and its existence in the human heart and chose to reject all of society and trust no one.
The name of Goodman Brown and his wife Faith are clear symbolic elements. Goodman Brown stands for the naïve, immature young man who only sees the good in his fellowman, and has yet to be confronted with evil. Faith, Goodman Brown’s young wife stands for what Goodman Brown believes in. He sees his wife as all that is good and when he realizes that she too has made a pack with the devil he cries “my faith is gone…There is no good on earth.” This makes Brown a stern, sad and distrustful man. I think Hawthorne was saying th...


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...ersion experience. Whether or not the meeting in the woods existed is not important. Puritans required their followers to doubt themselves and their community so much that a reality in which they could be good and trustworthy did not exist. It also taught that you could not trust anyone. During the Witch trials of that day men turned on accused wives as Goodman Brown also turned on his wife and lost her as well as his spiritual faith over something that may or may not have existed.
Hawthorne uses symbolism to write a story that is left open to the reader’s interpretation. I do think Hawthorne wants the reader to be aware of sin in his/her own heart. I also think he wanted the reader to know that being aware of sin can help one better deal with life and to isolate oneself from society and reject all that have sinned can only lead to a lonely, miserable end.

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