Young Goodman Brown Allegory Analysis

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Certain themes in history are timeless in explanation of human behavior. A platform for explaining aspects of life is an allegory, which is a work that uses symbols that are interpreted on a symbolic and literal way to teach a lesson or convey a truth. In the story Young Goodman Brown, the story is a representation of every man’s dealing with the temptation of loss of innocence. Even though it is in the setting of Puritan America, its lesson can be applied to people from any period of time, including today. Each aspect of the story is a symbol for some aspect of a person’s experience with society and himself or herself. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story Young Goodman Brown effectively uses the allegorical elements of characters, ordinary objects, …show more content…
The main character, Goodman Brown, is exemplary of the purpose of the allegory. He symbolizes the “average” man in the world, which makes the story relatable. In relating to the lesson, the idea that Goodman Brown decided to abandon Faith in the beginning of the story in order to visit the devil in the woods represents how all people experiment with evil at some point in their life. Goodman Brown’s dealings with Faith represent the theme of hypocrisy. In the beginning, he states to the devil that “Faith kept me back awhile”, which makes one infer that Goodman Brown wants to take the journey into the woods (Hawthorne 285). In contrast, at the end of the story, he tries to rely on Faith to take him away from the dealings with the Devil, which came as a nasty surprise to him that Faith also was in league with the Devil and could not save him. Also, he points out everyone else in the village as faithless, but does not mention himself. Next, the Old Man, who symbolizes the devil, represents the epitome of what humankind is trying to stay away from, but the temptation proves to be too great for anyone. While symbolizing only evil, he ironically is the only character in the story that is not a hypocrite. Overall, what he says …show more content…
The time in which the story takes place is during the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem witch trials were a time of when people’s judgment of good and evil were really put on trial. The emphasis on good and evil during the time of the trials intensifies the story when Goodman Brown was struggling with the concept of embracing his evil side. Hawthorne effectively uses this time period to show hypocrisy in his characters. While some in real life, like Goody Cloyse, were convicted of witchcraft, Hawthorne makes hypocrites out of people like the minister. Considered in Puritan times as the last person to be considered in the league with the devil, the minister is seen attending the Black Mass also. This discovery of everyone being in league with the devil “has destroyed his [Brown’s] faith in the Calvinist elect” because since the Puritans were such uptight people and their whole life was devoted to religion, it ruins Brown’s faith basically in the world (Morsberger 306). The place of the story is the town of Salem and the surrounding woods. Very simply put, the town represents a place where good, pious people reside, representing the “good” side of nature. On the other hand, the woods represent where the devil resides. The traveling of the people of Salem back and forth between the town and the woods symbolizes people’s acquaintance with the good and bad sides of their nature.

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