Symbolism in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay examples

2488 Words 10 Pages
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “Young Goodman Brown,” is rich in symbolism, as this essay will amply illustrate.

Hugo McPherson in “Hawthorne’s Use of Mythology” explains how the author’s “inner drama” may be expressed in his symbolism:

The imaginative foundation of a writer’s work may well be an inner drama or ‘hidden life’ in which his deepest interests and conflicts are transformed into images or characters; and through the symbolic play of these creations, he comes to ‘know’ the meaning of his experience; the imaginative structure becomes a means of reaching truth. . . . he lives ‘a life of allegory,’ and each of his works expresses one facet or another of the total structure. . . .heart-leading symbol. [The Heart became]
…show more content…
. . ” (15). 3. Q. D. Leavis in “Hawthorne as Poet” states that “the relevant point is that Young Goodman Brown is Everyman in seventeenth century New England” (35). And what is Salem village symbolic of? It was “the center of the witchcraft delusion, in the witching times of 1692, and it shows the populace of Salem Village, those chief in authority, as well as obscure young citizens like Brown, enticed by fiendish shapes into the frightful solitude of superstitious fear” (Abel 133). To have so much symbolism in the very opening sentence of the tale is almost too much for the human mind.

Examining the second sentence of the short story, we see: “And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.” What do the pink ribbons signify? 1. “The ribbons are in fact an explicit link between two conceptions of Faith, connecting sweet little Faith of the village with the woman who stands at the Devil’s baptismal font. We can legitimately disagree about the meaning of this duality; the fact remains that in proposing that Faith’s significance is the opposite of what he had led the reader to expect, Hawthorne violates the fixed conceptual meaning associated with his character. . . .They are part of her
Open Document