The Allegorical Nature in Young Goodman Brown Essay Example
The Allegorical Nature in Young Goodman Brown Essay Example

The Allegorical Nature in Young Goodman Brown Essay Example

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The Allegorical Nature in Young Goodman Brown Nathaniel Hawthorne is notable for his works that portray the darkness hiding behind the images of goodness rooted into Puritan society during the 17th century. Hawthorne's image of hidden darkness is emphasized in “Young Goodman Brown,” as a short story published in 1835, about a Puritan man who sets out on an unknown journey only to come to the realization that everyone he knows has sinned in one way or another, causing him to question the righteousness of the people around him.

The allegorical nature of Hawthorne’s work is evident in his symbolism throughout the story to ultimately expose the true weakness in humanity. Hawthorne uses symbolism to show the meaning hidden behind Young Goodman Brown, Faith, and Goody Cloyse. The story begins when a Young Goodman Bro


wn is about to undertake in his unknown journey. His name, although very simplistic, has a deeper allegorical meaning. Young is meant to show that he is somewhat a susceptible man who has yet come to fully realize the world that he exists in because he still believes everybody to be innocent and moral like he is.

Goodman is used to represent the pride that Goodman Brown has in himself, believing himself to be a righteous and pure man. Also, the Brown in the character’s name represents the commoner who is no different from anyone else. Altogether, Young Goodman Brown portrays the normal youthful man who believes in the purity of his mind and body, much like every man during his era. Goodman Brown’s wife, Faith, represents the goodly wife who serves as Goodman Brown’s faith in God and goodness. When Goodman Brown

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arrives 15 minutes late to embark upon his journey, he declares, “Faith kept me back awhile. (Hawthorne 608) Faith’s name is used ambiguously throughout the story as both the faithful wife and Goodman Brown’s faith in goodness that serves as a shield to protect him from the evils of the world. Although interpreted literally, Brown’s reason for his delay is that his wife detained him with her worries whereas Hawthorne’s intended meaning is that faith in God and his religion kept him back because he was undecided between staying within the safety of his home and community or entering the unknown and evil world to start his journey.

Once on his journey, Goodman Brown sees Goody Cloyse, his present moral and spiritual advisor, on the path. It is ironic that this woman is Goodman Browns spiritual advisor when she, herself, is a servant of the Devil. Hawthorne uses Goody Cloyse, an upstanding Puritan to attack the Puritans lifestyle and how they are not immune to evil. These three characters stress the importance of how the Puritan society, known for the goodness of its people, masks the sinful nature that is rooted in every one of us, Puritans or not.

Hawthorne uses faith’s pink ribbons, the Devil’s stick, and the path in the forest to show the symbolic meaning in these objects. When the pink ribbon flies lightly down through the air onto the branch of a tree, Goodman Brown realizes that his Faith is gone. The pink ribbon serves as an important role in the move from youthful innocence to the loss of all innocence when the pink ribbon falls from the air. Goodman Brown soon realizes

there is no good on Earth. Another object that entices Goodman Brown to enter this world is the staff that seems “to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent. (610) The Devil holds the magical object and only offers it to Goodman Brown to lure him into joining the dark forces. The idea of Satanism is distinct in the descriptive details of a snake emerging from the staff. Also, the snake symbolizes the snake in the Garden of Eden, which enticed Adam and Eve to sin, where Goodman Brown is now the one enticed. When Goodman Brown is rushing through the forest, the path is used to guide mortal man to evil as the man deepens into the heart of the wilderness. The path is an element that serves to lead even the most righteous man down the wrong direction into hell for him to meet his fellow sinners.

Following the path, Goodman Brown is following his own fate to expose the lack of goodness in all mankind. The forest, glimmers of light, and society are also a significant part of the allegorical nature of Young Goodman Brown. The story begins in a darkening mood as Goodman Brown comes forth at sunset into the deepening darkness of the forest. Nighttime represents the unknown darkness that can attack at any given time, and because Goodman Brown sets off on his journey as the sun goes down, it signifies his gradual entrance into the dark world.

The forest narrows around him as he enters onto the path, which signifies that his innocence will never be preserved again. Through the journey into the forest, Goodman Brown sees gleams of

light flashing from the night sky. These glimpses of faint lights seem to comfort Goodman Brown as he advances deeper into the forest. Just when it seems as if the young character might give in to the Devil, he looks up to the sky to see sudden sparks of light renewing a sense of hope. The glimpses represent sudden and quick appearances of the faith that will strengthen him to defend his soul from others.

An important detail that Hawthorne provides is the description of the people, including “pious people chaste dames men of dissolute lives women of spotted fames wretches” (609) who have united together to become servants of the Devil. Hawthorne places the good and pious side by side with the wickedness and sinful to show the mingling of people and the suggestion of good combining with evil. It is the entire race of mankind, illustrating the entire world with the belief that all of humanity possesses evil, obviously displayed or hidden.

With the emphasis symbolic meaning, Hawthorne reveals to the reader that humans have evil in them and everyone sins. Goodman Brown sees through his own eyes that everyone is not as pure and innocent as he once thought they were, and yet he is unaware of the fact that he himself is one of those people. Goodman Brown shows that the nature of mankind is evil and there is no way to get around. Hawthorne shows that knowing that evil is present in everyday life will allow you to be more careful about who you trust and depend on, so that you can progress through life, unlike Goodman Brown who carries his unhappiness

to his deathbed.

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