Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Essay

Good Essays
Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes symbolism throughout his short story Young Goodman Brown to impact and clarify the theme of good people sometimes doing bad things. Hawthorne uses a variety of light and dark imagery, names, and people to illustrate irony and different translations. Young Goodman Brown is a story about a man who comes to terms with the reality that people are imperfect and flawed and then dies a bitter death from the enlightenment of his journey through the woods. Images of darkness, symbolic representations of names and people and the journey through the woods all attribute to Hawthorne's theme of good people sometimes doing bad things.

The use of dark
…show more content…
He dies a bitter lonely man because he couldn?t handle the truth that good people sometimes do bad things. ?They carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom.? (206)

Throughout the story Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the names of Young Goodman Brown and his wife Faith as symbolic representations. The word ?young? in Goodman Brown?s name gives you the image of an inexperienced, naïve boy who must take on an adventure instead of staying in the comfort of his surroundings. His wife, Faith, tries to stop him by saying, ?Pray thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed to-night.? (196) Here you see Faith encouraging Goodman Brown?s quest for knowledge to be done in the light (sunrise) instead traveling through the unknown darkness to gain wisdom. Her fear is made clear through the use of light and dark imagery. The use of the words ?good? and ?man? in Goodman Brown names leaves you to wonder if men are really good. My interpretation is that Goodman Brown is not good at all because he falls into the devil's temptation and excepts the baptism. It proves that even the best of men are subject to imperfection.

The word faith throughout the story is a play on words. The first use of the word faith is the name of Goodman Brown?s wife. The second use of the word faith describes Goodman Brown?s belief, trust and
Get Access