Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown

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Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown

“The Symbolism of Young Goodman Brown”
Nathaniel Hawthorne is a nineteenth-century American writer of the Romantic Movement.
Hawthorne was born is Salem, Massachusetts, and this is the place he used as the setting
for some of his works: such as “The Scarlett Letter”, “the Blithedale Romance” and “Young
Goodman Brown”. In writing, Hawthorne was known for his use of allegory and symbolism,
which made his stories a joy for everyone to read. Hawthorne was said to be the first
American writer who was conscious of the failure of modern man to realize his full
capacity for moral growth. His stories contain much about the life he knew as a child
being brought up in a Puritan society. As Hawthorne’s writing continued it was filled
with the same amount of sin and evil as his first writings. Evil that was revealed
through his works.

“Young Goodman Brown” was said to be one of the best stories ever written by Hawthorne
(Adams70). “The Marble Faun: and “the Scarlett Letter were some of the other stories
written by Hawthorne, and they were said to be “Young Goodman Brown” grown older. In this
selection there is a question of maturity for Goodman Brown and whether he is good or
evil. There is also a transition from childishness to adolescence to maturity. This
short story in particular has a feeling of adultery, betrayal, and deception as in some of
his other works. It was said by Richard P. Adams that “young Goodman Brown” was a germ
for nearly all his best work that followed (Adams 71). The use of symbolism in “young
Goodman Brown” shows that evil is everywhere, which becomes evident in the conclusion of
this short story.

Hawthorne’s works are filled with symbolic elements and allegorical elements. “Young
Goodman Brown” deals mostly with conventional allegorical elements, such as Young Goodman
Brown and Faith. In writing his short stories or novels he based their depiction of sin
on the fact that he feels like his father and grandfather committed great sins. There are
two main characters in this short story, Faith and Young Goodman Brown.

“Young Goodman Brown is everyman seventeenth-century New England the title as usual giving
the clue. He is the son of the Old Adam, and recently wedded to Faith. We must note that
every word is significant in the opening sentence: “Young Goodman Brown came forth at
sunset into the street of Sale, Village; but put his head back, after crossing the
threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young w2ife. ‘She begs him to ‘put off his
journey until sunrise,’ but he declares he cannot…. [It] should not escape us that she
tries to stop him because she is a similar compulsion to go on a journey’ herself-‘She
talks dreams, too, ‘Young Goodman Brown reflects as he leaves her. The journey each must
take alone, in dread, at night, is the journey away form home and the community from
conscious, everyday social life, to the wilderness where the hidden self satisfies or
forces us to realize its subconscious fears and prompting in sleep. We take that journey
with him into the awful forest. Noting the difference between the town and the forest.
We see Hawthorne using the Puritan association of trees and animals. When Young Goodman
associates returns to Salem Village, his eyes are opened to the true nature of his
fellowmen, that is human nature; he inescapably knows that what he suspected of himself is
true of all men… Hawthorne has made a dramatic poem of the Calvinist experience in New
England. The unfailing tact with which the experience is evoked subjectively in the more
impressive concrete terms, is a subordinate proof of genius. I should prefer to stress
the wonderful I control of local and total rhythm, which never falters of stackers, and
rises from the quest but impressive opening to its poetic climax in the superb and moving
finale. Hawthorne has imaginatively recreated for the reader that Calvinist sense of sin,
that theory did in actuality shape the early social and spiritual history of New England.
But in Hawthorne by a wonderful feat of translation, it has no religious significance; it
is as a psychological state that it explored. Young Goodman Brown’s faith in human
beings, and losing it he is doomed to isolation forever (Peabody 331).”

Young Goodman Brown is the main character and the protagonist, and Faith Brown, his wife
is said to be one of the antagonists in this selection. Young Goodman Brown is a husband
of three months and is still said to be immature. Brown symbolizes immaturity, goodness,
and everyman. He is a very religious person, happy in his marriage, trustworthy and
naïve. “Young Goodman Brown is stern, sad, darkly meditative, distrustful if not a
desperate man (Adams 72).” Brown is said to be naïve because he goes into this evil
forest even though his wife warned him of the danger that he was about to encounter.
Brown, actually is every man, whether young or old our parents in some way try to protect
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