Hawthorne And Symbolism Essay, Research Paper
Hawthorne and Symbolism
Symbolism is a key in all or most writings. Symbolism is what the reader needs in order to use his imagination. In “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, through different symbolism, Hawthorne writes about a man who in his coming of age. This man is Goodman Brown and he learns that there is a darkness in everyone and upon this coming of knowledge, his life is change forever.
First of all, Hawthorne describes Goodman Brown as a good Puritan who is devoted to his wife Faith, whose name he uses like a shield for his soul. At the beginning of his walk through the woods, Brown runs into the Devil who tries to convert him; this is shown by the Devil’s offering of the staff to Brown. The Devil goes on to say that Brown’s family has had dealings with evil in the past. He uses the example of the Salem witch trials. Brown goes on to say that he could not bear the shame of betraying his faith while the Devil is naming people known and respected by Brown to try to show him that it wouldn’t really be that bad if Brown joined the witches’ plan.
Secondly, when Goody Cloyse is encountered, Brown learns how she truly feels about him. Goody Cloyse freely takes up the Devil’s staff. Proud of himself for denying the Devil, while again using his wife’s name to strengthen his resolve, Brown discovers that his respected Minister, Deacon Gookin, is a servant of the Devil. When Brown learns that his wife has given into the temptation of the Devil, the Christian belief he is struggling to keep is shaken from him. “My Faith is gone!” “There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil! for to
thee is this world given.” This shows that the most important thing in Christianity, his faith, is lost.
Throughout the night, Brown finds out more than he ever wanted to know about how his fellow Puritan townsmen have betrayed their faith by giving in to their darker desires, he even
feels his father urging him onward to do the same. All that he learns in the night is too much for him, and it changes a devoted husband with bright hopes and a wife whom he loves to a tired, beaten, questioning and almost faithless man.
Hawthorne uses symbolism to write a story that is open to explanation. There are many times in the story when he is questioning his faith by listing the examples of religious violation by his peers. For all this, it is a wonder Hawthorne was not eaten by the despair and guilt he lets Goodman Brown feel.