18 March 2014
Young Goodman Brown Symbols Essay
The short story of Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne tells of a man, Goodman Brown, who takes a journey through the forest at night. He meets up with a man who looks similar to him who walks with him for most of his journey. Through the walks they find an old woman walking who Goodman’s companion gave his walking stick to help her along. Then Goodman stopped to take a break and the man urges him to come with him still, Goodman declines and his companion gives him his new walking stick he made. When Goodman gets back to his village he sees everyone as if they worship the devil and are not really faithful to God even the priest of the village. Throughout the story there are many symbols used even in the short summary above. The story represents Hawthorne’s beliefs about the Puritan culture of his time.
The first symbol shown in the story was Faith, Goodman’s wife who had pink ribbons in her hair which is also a symbol in the story. Faith’s name is a symbol because with them being religious, they are sworn to be true to each other and be faithful in their marriage which was referenced at the beginning of the story; we know they were just married because of the quote “What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we buy three months married?” (Hawthorne 174). The pink ribbons in her hair represent Faith’s purity and innocence since that is what the color pink represents as it goes with her name.
Goodman Brown’s name also represents the religious and marital good about him. His religious good is how he refuses to give in to the devil even though he already unknowingly has by going with him on a journey. The part at which he refuses is when he does not get up for the devil when he calls for him to come along with him. Also when he gets back to the village he sees everyone as impure even his wife who before the journey was seen as wonderful by him. His marital good is represented by how in love Goodman and Faith seem when he leaves for the journey. He also says, “Well, she’s a blessed angel on earth” (Hawthorne 175), this shows that he sees her as the best suited woman who could ever wish for.
The companion who travelled with Goodman also took on many symbols which were referenced throughout the story; the most important being that he represented the devil. The first being that he resembled Goodman in his appearance; this showed that the devil could change form to try to persuade the person to do what he wanted them to do. His staff was said to look like a serpent with it being so wavy and looking very life-like. There was a quote about how the devil created a new staff from a tree branch and the branch changed form after the devil touched it. The quote began with the devil taking the small twigs off and when he did this “The moment his fingers touched them they became strangely withered and dried up” (Hawthorne 178).
Throughout the journey Goodman Brown speaks of how the forest is a place where no one goes because of what has happened with the burning of the Indians’ villages and powwows which are the Indian medicine men who, Goodman says, conduct devil related acts and spells. Goodman also says that none of his forefathers have walked through the forest because it is so revered as an evil place. He states that he fears that, along with the Indians, the devil could…