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Young Goodman Brown ““Young Goodman Brown”” by Nathaniel
Hawthorne contains much symbolism. The symbols take many forms
from the setting to the characters. The symbols can be viewed as
just part of the story line, but apon further thought they
represent many different things. Faith, Brown’’s wife, is a
symbol herself. When he says, ““My love and my Faith,”” he is
using his wife as a symbol and is really referring to his love
and faith in God. He goes on to say ““this one night I must tarry
away from thee.”” He means that he must part from his faith in
God to carry on with his journey. He also says to the devil, ““
Faith kept me back awhile”” and is making reference to a higher
being that is trying to keep him from making his journey by
delaying it. When Brown finds the pink ribbon that his wife was
wearing lying in the forest he says, ““my Faith is gone”” and is
referring to himself as losing his faith in God. Also, Goodman
Brown’’s ““errand”” symbolizes the Puritan voyage where they were
to find the plan that God has set for them and let faith be their
guidance. As Goodman Brown continues his ““errand”” and thing
begin to go array he grows weak and falls to the ground. He
“begins to doubt whether there really was a Heaven above him” and
this is a key point when Goodman Brown’s faith begins to wain.

Goodman Brown in panic declares that “With Heaven above, and
Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!” This is
similar to a Puritan putting his faith in God and following
““God’’ Plan.”” The forest that Goodman Brown ventures to in
itself is a symbol. In the Puritan days the townspeople were
barred from going into the forest because that is where evil
lurked and even says ““ my father never went into the woods……nor
his father before him.”” Hawthorne described the forrest as ““ a
dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest””
and even jokes of the evil lurking there when he says ““there may
be a devilish Indian behind every tree”” and ““What if the devil
himself should be at my very elbow!”” Hawthorne even uses the
main character as a symbol. His name, Young Goodman Brown makes
reference to him as being young and a good person. Then Hawthorne
gives him such a common last name that it relates him to any and
everybody, just like he does in one of his other short stories,
““Everyman””, when he uses this as a reference to all of society.

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Another symbol that is present in the story is the mysterious man
in the forest. He symbolizes the devil or evil in the story and
strangely bears ““a considerable resemblance to Goodman
Brown.”” The Devil had with him a staff that “bore the likeness
of a great black snake”. The staff, which looked like a snake,
symbolizes the snake in the story of Adam and Eve. The snake led
Adam and Eve to their destruction by leading them to the Tree of
Knowledge, just as Brown is being led to unfathomed knowledge by
the devil, and in turn is being led to his destruction. Just like
Adam and Eve, when Brown finds the ““ fountain of all wicked
arts”” his faith is exiled from him just as Adam and Eve were
cast from the garden. The story as a whole symbolizes that the
potential for evil resides in everybody. The rest of Brown’’s
life is destroyed because of his inability to face the truth of
sin and live with it. The story, which may have been a dream, and
not a real life event, planted the seed of doubt in Brown’s mind,
which him to lose his faith in his fellow man and leaves him
alone and depressed. His life ends alone and miserable because he
was never able to look at himself and realize that what he
believed were everyone else’s faults were his as well, and this
led to his isolation from the community. Brown was buried with
“no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was
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