Deep Allegory in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

2351 Words10 Pages
Deep Allegory in Young Goodman Brown

Herman Melville in “Hawthorne and His Mosses” (The Literary World August 17, 24, 1850), comments on the deep allegory found within Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “Young Goodman Brown.”

"Young Goodman Brown"? You would of course suppose that it was a simple little tale, intended as a supplement to "Goody Two Shoes." Whereas, it is deep as Dante; nor can you finish it, without addressing the author in his own words--"It is yours to penetrate, in every bosom, the deep mystery of sin." And with Young Goodman, too, in allegorical pursuit of his Puritan wife, you cry out in your anguish. . . .

The use of allegory in his short stories is characteristic of Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the
…show more content…
Stanley T. Williams in “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind” states that the author was always “perfecting his delicate craft of the symbol, of allegory” (42). A. N. Kaul states : “In an effort to apprehend and adequately reflect the new complexity of man’s life, he [Hawthorne] molded the venerable – in his case directly inherited – allegorical method into the modern technique of symbolism” (3).

M. H. Abrams defines an allegory as a “narrative, whether in prose or verse, in which the agents and actions, and sometimes the setting as well, are contrived by the author to make coherent sense on the ‘literal,’ or primary, level of signification, and at the same time to signify a second, correlated order of signification” (5). It is quite obvious from the names of the characters in “Young Goodman Brown” that their names are contrived to give a secondary signification. Goodman is on the primary level a simple husband who is following his curiosity about evil; on the level of secondary signification he is Everyman or the new Adam: R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Rime: Hawthorne” states: Finally, it was Hawthorne who saw in American experience the re-creation of the story of Adam and who . . . exploited the active metaphor of the American as Adam – before and during and after the Fall” (72). Goodman responds in this way to the fellow-traveler when the latter implicates the governor in devilish deeds:

"Can this be so!" cried Goodman Brown, with a stare of amazement at his
Get Access