Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Young Goodman Brown” is presented as an allegory of the peril innate of one’s decisions not following his heart and the cause and effect of Young Goodman Brown’s decision to take the wrong road. Hawthorne’s use of symbolism is obvious throughout this story. Perfect examples of symbolism begin with Hawthorne’s use of Goodman’s wife Faith representing his religion, use of scenery to symbolize the mood setting and, sunset, light, the darkness of the woods, Young Goodman Brown himself is a representation of humans kind In this story Young Goodman Brown has been characterized as a man of religious faith, someone who believes and trust in his God to guide and support him down the right path, Ironically, as we read the story he has married a woman named Faith.
Her name is no accident as she will represent Brown’s religious conviction throughout the tale.
She calls for him to remain with her, but Brown is determined to go his own way.
“Amen!” cried Goodman Brown. “Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk and no harm will come to thee. By saying these words to his wife, he has reaffirmed the need to pursue the faith for which he believes in. Prayers and faith will keep him strong. The use of dusk represents the light or path to God who will protect him. Another example of how his wife Faith is represented as an allegoric figure as Goodman thinks “Well, she‘s a blessed angel on earth, and after this one night, I’ll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven”.
In this phrase, Faith is the representation of Heaven and things Godly. As Young Goodman approaches the path that he must take on his journey; he expresses once again how faith guides him.
“You are late, Goodman Brown,” said he. “The clock of the Old South was striking; as I came through Boston, and that is full fifteen agone.” “Faith kept me back a while,” replied the young man, with a tremor in his voice, caused by the sudden appearance of his companion, though not wholly unexpected. Is this particular phrase actually referring to his wife Faith or a reference to his religious beliefs? He had taken a dreary road darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barley stood aside to let narrow path creep through and closed immediately behind. The dreariness and darkness of the path symbolize fear and perhaps loneliness. Goodman is fearful as to where this path may lead. The staff in the story illustrates evil, which is associated with the devil. At one point in the story the stranger is encouraging Young Goodman to utilize the staff, in doing so Young Goodman would have crumbled to the wrong ways of others. “Come, Goodman Brown!” cried his fellow traveler.
“This is a dull pace for the beginning of a journey, Take my staff, if you are so soon weary.” This is a prime example of symbolism. The traveler is the devil himself trying to convince Goodman to take evil, the staff into his own hand. His staff bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent. Once again, the serpent is symbolizing both evil and harm. Young Goodman Brown is faced with several choices within this story. Although he may not have always had the exact words or necessary elements needed to ensure that he made the right decision, things around him always symbolized something that hopefully helped him purse the right choices. The eeriness of the fears represented fear, the evilness of the staff and the traveler reminded him that he must not go down the wrong path, and the images of his wife and her name alone allowed him to keep focused on his faith.