Hawthorne’s use of symbolism in “Young Goodman Brown.”
‘‘Young Goodman Brown’’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a tale set in Salem, Massachusetts. The story features the events that occurred during the Salem witch trials. The author writes a story of a younger whose life tuned worse when he embarked on a journey to woods with the devil. Even though the character does not comprehend whether the events were real or imaginary, he learns essential lessons that alter his perception concerning life and religion. The character notices that a majority of the people including his wife and ancestors were under devil’s influence. He realizes that all the upright individuals inclusive of the moral leaders in the region who served God during the day went to the forest to worship the devil. Hawthorne uses symbolism and religious imagery to illustrate religious hypocrisy and the incapacity to evade sin.
Goodman’s wife is the essential symbolism use in the story. The symbol helps in the building the theme of religious hypocrisy. The wife is named Faith; therefore, when Goodman speaks to her, it appears as if he is talking of his faith to God (Hawthorne, 2015). It is important to note that when Goodman states that ‘‘my love and my faith, of all nights of the year, this one night I must tarry away from thee’’ at the start of the narration does not only mean leaving his wife but also his loss of faith and evil meeting (Hawthorne, 2015). The character argues that faith withheld him behind suggesting that his faith in God caused the delay. Important to observe, when Goodman sees his wife worshipping the devil with rest of the people in the village he claims that his faith was gone. Consequently, Goodman’s faith in God is dependent on faith in other people especially his wife. Additionally, when Goodman sees as if he is losing his wife the same happens to his faith in God. Therefore, the author manages to show hypocrisy is incorporated in religion whereby people’s faith in God is influenced by belief in other human beings (Sterling & Bloom, 2008). On that note, Goodman loses his confidence on seeing that the religious individuals in town including his wife were praising the devil. Therefore, his faith was in them instead of the true God.
Equally significant, the Hawthorne uses symbolism to show the difference between two events or individuals. The writer uses pink ribbons to represent the difference between appearance and reality. Faith appears to be innocent due to her childlike look; however, the truth is that worships the devil (Sterling & Bloom, 2008). It is crucial to note that Faith wears the pink ribbons to represent her purity. The color is often associated with guiltlessness and gaiety. Hawthorne mentions the fabrics several times at the start of the story and reintroduces them during Goodman’s experience in the forest. Therefore, the author can show Goodman perception before and after the trip to the woods. Before the journey, he considered his wife pure, innocent and religious. However, after the events in the woods, he realized that his wife was hypocritical. Additionally, the author uses the ribbons to symbolize the difference between the two couples, Goodman and Faith. Hawthorne states that ‘‘here comes faith with the pink ribbons…’’ and ‘’here comes Goodman Brown the unofficial Debbie Downer…’’ (Hawthorne, 2015).
Notwithstanding, the devil's staffs that the author uses in the story. The narrator alludes to the biblical symbol of the serpent claiming that the carved snake encircles the devil's staff. The author uses the symbol to show how people’s faith is influenced by other people (Sterling & Bloom, 2008). The situation is similar to Eve’s case when the snakes lure her to eat the forbidden fruit. Similarly, the devil convinces Goodman to use the staff to en...