Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story “Young Goodman Brown” portrays the growth of Young Goodman Brown through vivid symbolic setting. “Young Goodman Brown” is an allegory in which the setting is very important to the theme of the story. Throughout the narration, detailed setting and emblematic characters surround Goodman Brown. Goodman Brown is an Everyman character, which could be any one of us, struggling with his Puritan heritage, more specifically his spiritual faith.

The setting is first introduced during a conversation between Goodman and his wife “Faith” which is symbolic of his struggle with his spiritual faith throughout the story. Standing in the doorway of his own home he turns to
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He is privileged to have a loving wife at home, a good Puritan upbringing, yet he still isn’t content that he should just follow this role without exploring beyond the known. ““Faith kept me back a while,” replied the young man, with a tremor in his voice, caused by the sudden appearance of his companion, though not wholly unexpected.””(391)

The elder man carries a staff, which “bore the likeness of a great black snake”. (392) Later in the story the staff turns to a snake, which is just another supernatural occurrence in the setting representing spiritual “faith”. In the Bible snakes represent evil and are often found around passages of sin. Other supernatural or biblical illustrations include blood, and the devil’s speed (from Boston to Salem). The setting is extremely important to this journey Young Goodman Brown is following because each element of setting has significant meaning to the theme and mood Hawthorne creates.
Continuing to explore the many elements of his faith, he continues down the path, and encounters yet more elements of setting, which signify his discontent with the elders from his childhood. He gets a glimpse of his catechism teacher, a deacon of the church, and many other people of the congregation. Along the way the evil force, his tour guide, the older man, keeps reminding him that these people are here all the time, that all the people from his childhood come there, and that he has worked
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