Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living” state: “Hawthorne’s unique gift was for the creation of strongly symbolic stories which touch the deepest roots of man’s moral nature” (31). It is the purpose of this essay to explore the main symbolism contained within Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “Young Goodman Brown.”
Stanley T. Williams in “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind” states that the author was forever “perfecting his delicate craft of the symbol, of allegory, of the few themes and oft repeated character-types which were to haunt forever the minds of those who know New England” (42).
Let us begin with the opening lines of the story: “YOUNG GOODMAN BROWN came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village. . .” What is Goodman Brown symbolic of? 1. According to Levy, he “is Everyman. The bargain he has struck with Satan is the universal one . . . . Initially, he is a naive and immature young man who fails to understand the gravity of the step he has taken . . . [which is] succeeded by a presumably adult determination to resist his own evil impulses” (117). 2. Fogle writes that he is “a naive young man who accepts both society in general and his fellow men as individuals at their own valuation, [who] is in one terrible night confronted with the vision of human evil . . . ” (15). 3. Q. D. Leavis in “Hawthorne as Poet” states that “the relevant point is that Young Goodman Brown is Everyman in seventeenth century New England” (35). And what is Salem village symbolic of? It was “the center of the witchcraft delusion, in the witching times of 1692, and it shows the populace of Salem Village, those chief in authority, as well as obscur...
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... Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1952.
Franklin, Benjamin V. “Goodman Brown and the Puritan Catechism.” ESQ 40 (1994): 67-88.
Fuller, Edmund and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Hale, John K. “The Serpentine Staff in ‘Young Goodman Brown.’” Nathaniel Hawthorne Review 19 (Fall 1993): 17-18.
James, Henry. Hawthorne. http://eldred.ne.mediaone.net/nh/nhhj1.html
Leavis, Q. D. “Hawthorne as Poet.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Levy, Leo B. “The Problem of Faith in ‘Young Goodman Brown.’” Modern Critcial Views: Nathaniel Hawthorne. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. 115-126.
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