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Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown - Book Report/Review Example

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Following Maus (2002), the symbolic meaning of Faith in the story "is not only representative of Faith the individual but the faith of the individual--witness Goodman Brown's reply to the devil's comment about his tardiness, which contains both literal and allegorical truth" (78). From the very beginning, readers perceive characters and their actions through their symbolic names.
Using symbols names as elements of characterization, Hawthorne portrays the concern is with human motives and human action and with what an act may reveal of character. Ignorance in the search for the self creates tension and attracts readers' attention to double meaning of the symbols. Hawthorne characterizes Faith as "Well, she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven' (Hawthorne). The short story is based on allegorical elements which add emotional tension and pressure. It means that "the characters and objects in the story represent abstract ideas" ('More Symbolism' n.d.). Beauchamp (38) these symbols fresh and vivid, and are used to intensify, to clarify, to enrich the atmosphere; these symbols helps to make readers fed the writer's grasp of the characters and situation he is dealing with, gives his grasp of it with precision, vividness, force, economy; and to make such an impact on readers, its content, the stuff of which It is made, cannot be unduly fantastic and remote from readers' experience.
The remarkable feature of Hawthorne's style is the symbolic use of settings. The setting of 'dark forest' can be interpreted as dark human nature and mind. This symbol allows the author to create a unique atmosphere of the short story and feeling of horror. "He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind" (Hawthorne). Hawthorne depicts that a common man fail to find the truth applying knowledge to outside world. His challenge to God, who may not after all exist at all, gives him powers and courage. The symbol of forest can be compared with non-trodden paths and life experience of Goodman Brown (Maus 78). Hawthorne writes: "It was now deep dusk in the forest, and deepest in that part of it where these two were journeying". Detailed characterization of this setting helps Hawthorne to unveil true nature Goodman Brown and his actions (Donoghue 216).
The story is based on the symbol of evil and the devil. "Although the image of the devil is invoked and even has its embodiment described in physical terms, the image remains on the level of a symbol, never taking a full form and stepping into the frame of the narration" (Maus). Following Moores (5) and Donoghue (217) symbols of evil, sin and the devil prevail in most of his works. Goodman Brown questions: "What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!'' (Hawthorne). The symbol of devil is closely connected with the theme of knowledge. Goodman Brown wants to have had divine knowledge, and he thus challenges the way of things in every respect. Hawthorne depicts that the devil's knowledge of evil symbolizes innocence which can become evil. On the other ...Show more


Nathaniel Hawthorne is an American novelist and short story writer who represents Romantic era in American literature. In his short story "Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne speaks about search for truth and morality, a conflict between sin, evil and faith. Thesis In this short story, Hawthorne uses unique symbols and elements of characterization which help the author to describe the main characters and create unique atmosphere and settings.
Author : jonthiel
Nathaniel Hawthornes Young Goodman Brown essay example
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