Young Goodman Brown Symbolism Essay

Literary critic Mark Van Doren states: Young Goodman Brown means exactly what it says, namely that its hero left his pretty young wife one evening to walk by himself in a primitive New England woods, the Devil s territory, and either to dream or actually to experience (Hawthorne will not say) the discovery that evil exist in every human heart Brown is changed.He thinks there is no good on earth Brown, waking from his dream, if it was a dream, sees evil even where it is not He had stumbled upon that mystery of sin which, rightly understood, provides the only sane and cheerful view of life there is.

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Therefore Brown fails to distinguish the difference between a single person and actions of people as a whole.

Levin says that Hawthorne s way of writing Young Goodman Brown gives a clear interpretation of the meaning.

The story is obviously an individual tragedy, and those who treat it as such are right, of course; but, far beyond the personal plane, it has universal implications.

(Leavis 236) Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism throughout the story of Young Goodman Brown.

Mc Keithan states that to interpret Young Goodman Brown, the reader must make the distinction between sin and the effects of sin.

Literary critic David Levin says that Brown allows the Devil s statements about the persecution of Indians and the Quakers allows him to accept the false statements of the Devil.

Walsh says that the third symbolic instrument used in the story is the devil, which represents the evil side of Brown.

Mc Keithan says that Faith symbolizes religious faith, and before Brown can be totally loyal to Faith, he must indulge in sin once more.

Neglecting the fact that the Puritans whipped Quakers and burned Indian villages, the reader can then notice what Brown actually sees in the forest.

The story is not about the evil of other people but about Brown s doubt, his discovery of the possibility of universal evil.


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