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Happenings in the Garden of Eden

Essay by   •  April 26, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,149 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,222 Views

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is greatly known for the use of symbolism in his stories, and his short story Young Goodman Brown he does not disappoint us. Hawthorne's writings generally contain symbolism about the contradictory good and evil sides of humanity, Faith being the good and the man who led Brown's "journey" the evil. The use of symbolism by Hawthorne in Young Goodman Brown allows the reader to interpret the story deeper than a story not using symbolism would be read. This short story contains an abundance of symbolism, but the most prevalent examples of symbolism that will be examined are Young Goodman Brown's new wife, Faith, the elderly man who leads Brown into the forest, and the dark forest.

Brown's recent marriage to a woman who has the name Faith is week and still being established. This alludes to his Christian faith which is also weak and newly established. This can be seen through his thoughts of going on this "journey" and leaving his new wife behind. When he decides to leave his wife behind to embark on this journey the reader feels that he is weak in his faith and wants to go one last journey before fully committing to God and his wife. He does not yet completely cling to faith, which can be seen from his thoughts about leaving on this "journey", away from his wife Faith for the evening: "Poor little Faith! What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand!...Well; she's a blessed angel on earth and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven. (81) Not only does this quote mean that he feels negligent for leaving his wife and promises never to leave her again, but it is also interpreted that after this night he promises never to question his faith in God again and will develop his faith to make it stronger so to have an eternal life in Heaven with his Faith.

When he sees his wife in the forest at the witches' Sabbath, he realizes he is in danger of losing not only his wife but also his spiritual faith. This is when the reader knows Brown regrets leaving his wife and questioning his faith. Some will argue that for one to fully be faithful to something or someone they must withstand trials to confirm their faith. It is temptation that lead Brown into the forest but it was his faith that kept him from succumbing to the evil forces.

As Goodman left his wife to go on a "journey," he met with an elder man to walk with him into the forest. There is not much said about the looks of this man because he is nothing to be recognized as more than an elder man: "He beheld the figure of a man, in grave and decent attire." (82) The description of this man given to the reader is to show that there is no reason that Goodman should suspect that he has evil intentions or that this man may be leading him down a path away from his faith. When he approached the man, Goodman Brown was told he was late, he responded by saying, "Faith kept me back a while." (82) This puzzles the reader because not only could brown mean that his wife Faith held him aback, but also he could mean that it was his Godly faith that kept him so long from following the devil. This man does not present any physical danger to Brown as much as he presents a danger to Brown's spirituality. As the man leads him

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