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This Essay Explores Nathaniel Hawthorne's Usage Of Symbolism And Foreshadowing In His Short Story "Young Goodman Brown".

1038 words - 4 pages

Young Goodman Brown is written as a journey of internal conflict, where Brown is oblivious to his role and sins. This work contains wicked and evil components, and Nathaniel Hawthorne leaves Brown hopeless and disconnected in his life. Hawthorne does not allow Brown to rise above his fears and leaves Brown incognizant of what he is doing. Hawthorne uses subtle symbolism and foreshadowing throughout his story providing many layers and levels at which the story can be interpreted.Within the first few paragraphs Hawthorne informs his readers of the religious elements he intends to address. For example, the "aptly named" wife of Goodman Brown, Faith is introduced. (667) Her name alone serves as a double meaning, one of which is simply that of which she is known and the other is that of an unquestioning belief in God that does not require proof or evidence. Hawthorne then stresses the importance of the pink ribbons in Faith's hair that "play" in the wind, symbolizing Faith's childlike innocence and purity. (667) The foreshadowing takes place through the first dialogue between Brown and his wife. She warns him of her dreams and thoughts which plague her and begs for him to stay the night and leave on his journey in the morning, but he insists on leaving and questions her faith in him. As he starts his journey he begins to second guess his decision to leave his wife apprehensive and justifies his "present evil purpose" by vowing that "after this one night, [he'll] cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven". (667)The foreshadowing technique is seen again shortly after Brown enters the dark and gloomy woods by nervously stating, "What if the Devil himself should be at my very elbow!.", and within the following paragraph Brown meets up with what will soon be recognized as the prince of darkness himself. (668) The Devil then goes on to question Brown's tardiness and in response Brown replies, "Faith kept me back awhile." (668) The double meaning of Faith appears again insinuating that his devotion to either his wife or to God has held him from being punctual to his meeting with the Devil. Hawthorne continues to tell of this story of self conflict by illustrating the aesthetic similarities between these two travelers, by depicting the two to appear as father and son. Both were plainly dressed except for Satan's staff, " which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent". (668) The Devil then proceeds to offer the staff to Brown symbolizing the Devil's intent on converting Brown to Satanism.Brown declines the invitation because he does not wish to be the first in his family to deny God and turn to the Devil for guidance. Goodman boasts and brags about his lineage being "honest men and good Christians"; however, the Devil sets the story straight by announcing his relationships with Brown's father and grandfather and to the extent to which he had...

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