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Allegorical Analysis Of Faith In Nathaniel Hawthorne's &Quot;Young Goodman Brown&Quot;

806 words - 3 pages

In "Young Goodman Brown" Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism to effectively create the desired allegorical context. Having been published in 1835, the lasting effect of 17th century Puritanism played a significant role in the short story as it did in The Scarlet Letter and other works by Hawthorne as well (Shoemaker). Among the most commendable aspects of Hawthorne's writing is his obscure style that allows the reader to make his own interpretations. Distinctly supporting this element,perhaps the most prominent and debatably analyzed symbol is the character Faith, the wife of Goodman Brown.

While her tangible presence as a real character is often questioned, her initial symbolic role is obviously that of her name--the abstract idea of Goodman Brown's actual faith in God. He has the choice of whether to go back to his "Faith" or explore the evils that the devil has to offer. The decision to be made by the reader of Faith's actual existence as a human is one example of the skepticism Hawthorne used to help to develop a writing technique composed of a mixture of fact and imagination (Shoemaker).

Young Goodman Brown ventures into the forest without his "Faith" to keep his appointment with the devil. He doesn't want Faith to find out the evil intention of his

errand because he says, "'...she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven'" (Hawthorne 404). Brown believes that he can depend on his wife's faith to save him. Therefore, it does not matter if he leaves his own at home because it will remain waiting for him.

Opposition to the idea that he willingly abandoned Faith is in the symbolism held by the pink ribbon. Brown calls out three times for her to come to his aid, and not until he sees the pink ribbon that has fluttered down from the sky and caught on a branch does he realize that there is no hope without "Faith." It is tangible evidence of Faith's desertion (Gregory). He tells the devil the reason he cannot cooperate is because of Faith. "'It would break her dear little heart and I'd rather break my own'" (Hawthorne 405). However, by leaving in the first place, Brown literally breaks his faith in God, and with its departure, the two are never reunited.

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