Symbols and Analysis within Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

Symbols and Analysis within Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne provides historical, societal, religious, scientific and biographical contexts. The story is set in the period of the Salem Witch Trials in Puritan New England. The story describes Brown's journey into the depths of the forest, where he believes that he sees many of the members of his community, including his wife Faith, attending a satanic ceremony. The narrator implies that Brown may be sleeping, but either way the experience was real. It affected Brown very much. The story is often read as Hawthorne's condemnation of Puritan ideology, as it proposes that Puritan doctrine could strain so much doubt that believers were doomed to see evil-whether or not it truly existed-in themselves and especially in others. Within the short story of Young Goodman Brown, one can find evidence that collectiveness in communal life would be considered moral and that individualism would be considered unmoral in society. Eventually it becomes clear that a communalist life style is a necessary evil. Through Goodman Brown’s discovery of the corruptibility that results from Puritan society’s emphasis on public morality, one can piece together the idea that man is a social being and must be included in some type of community; whether the community itself is moral or unmoral.
When Brown is approached by another traveler with a large staff that looks like a snake; the devil’s staff was encircled by a carved serpent. This comes from the biblical symbol of the serpent as an evil demon. In the Book of Genesis, the serpent tempts Eve into eating the forbidden fruit from the forbidden tree; which defied God’s will. When the devil tells Brown to use the staff travel quicker, Brown takes his advice, just as Eve, he is ...


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...and he is upset when the devil tells him that this was not the case. He himself is ashamed to be seen walking in the forest and hides when Goody Cloyse, the minister, and Deacon Gookin pass. The forest is characterized as devilish, frightening, and dark, and Goodman Brown is comfortable in it only after he has given in to evil.



Works Cited

Folsom, James K. “Man’s Accidents and God’s Purposes”. Multiplicity in Hawthorne’s Fiction.
New Haven: College and University Press 1963.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” Literature: A Pocket Anthology. Ed. Gwynn,
R.S.. Third Edition. New York: Longman Publishers 2007. 198-209.
Paey, Stephanie. “Symbolism and Human Nature in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman
Brown”. Yahoo! Contributor Network. Apr 8, 2006. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/27166/symbolism_and_human_nature_in_nathaniel.html

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