The Allegory In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2099 words - 8 pages

The Allegory in “Young Goodman Brown”

 
    It is the purpose of this essay to show that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” is indeed an allegory. M. H. Abrams defines an allegory as a “narrative, whether in prose or verse, in which the agents and actions, and sometimes the setting as well, are contrived by the author to make coherent sense on the ‘literal,’ or primary, level of signification, and at the same time to signify a second, correlated order of signification” (5).

 

Yvor Winters in “Maule’s Curse, or Hawthorne and the Problem of Allegory” says that Hawthorne is essentially an allegorist (11). Stanley T. Williams in “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind” states that the author was always “perfecting his delicate craft of the symbol, of allegory” (42).

A. N. Kaul states : “In an effort to apprehend and adequately reflect the new complexity of man’s life, he [Hawthorne] molded the venerable – in his case directly inherited – allegorical method into the modern technique of symbolism” (3). It is quite obvious from the names of the characters in the short story that their names are contrived to give a secondary signification. Goodman is on the primary level a simple husband who is following his curiosity about evil; on the level of secondary signification he is Everyman or the new Adam: R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Rime: Hawthorne” states: Finally, it was Hawthorne who saw in American experience the re-creation of the story of Adam and who . . . exploited the active metaphor of the American as Adam – before and during and after the Fall” (72). Goodman responds in this way to the fellow-traveller when the latter implicates the governor in devilish deeds:

 

"Can this be so!" cried Goodman Brown, with a stare of amazement at his undisturbed companion. "Howbeit, I have nothing to do with the governor and council; they have their own ways, and are no rule for a simple husbandman like me. But, were I to go on with thee, how should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem village? Oh, his voice would make me tremble, both Sabbath-day and lecture-day!"

 

So by Goodman’s own words we learn that he is a simple, god-fearing husband – thus representative of all common people on the level of secondary signification.

 

Another character with an obviously allegorical name is Goody Cloyse. Since she is a catechism teacher, she might be considered “properly named” as Goody. On the secondary level she is representative of all the morally better people involved in church activities and good deeds. Her presence in the woods on the way to the coven indictes the universal truth that good people are tempted to evil just like the not-so-good types.

 

The wife of the protagonist is Faith, whose name says explicitly just what her secondary signification is – the theological virtue of Faith. As a virtue, Faith tries to save Godman from his tendency toward a deeper knowledge of evil:

 

...

Find Another Essay On The Allegory in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

Essay on Symbols, Symbolism, and Allegory in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

734 words - 3 pages Symbols, Symbolism, and Allegory in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Symbolism is a literary technique that is used to clarify the author's intent. Sometimes it is used to great effect, while other times it only seems to muddle the meaning of a passage. In "Young Goodman Brown," Nathaniel Hawthorne uses objects and people as symbols to allegorically reveal his message to the reader. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses different people as symbols

Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

685 words - 3 pages Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is full of symbolism throughout the story. Perhaps the most interesting examples of symbolism include the title character, Young Goodman Brown, as well as his wife, Faith, and the woods that Young Goodman Brown enters on his journey. Included are many allusions to Christianity and also to evil and sin. These references are expressed mainly

Blind Faith in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

939 words - 4 pages Young Goodman Brown:  Blind Faith Is it possible for a man to be SO hypnotized by faith that he is incapable of apprehending the truth that surrounds him? Yes. The principle of faith centers heavily around the confident belief of an idea set by a person or community. In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," the faith of an individual conflicts with the faith of the community. The story takes place during the period where all devoted

Sin in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2509 words - 10 pages ).   While changes to the Catechism would have occurred from the 17th to Hawthorne's own 19th century, the idea that his father's family had wished a proper Puritan education for Hawthorne is an important issue.  To accept as a child that you have in no way sinned but are completely sinful by nature is but one way in which "Young Goodman Brown" speaks out against Puritanism.  As Young Goodman Brown witnesses the exchange between the “devil” and Goody

Faith in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1113 words - 4 pages Missing Works Cited Nathaniel Hawthorne’s allegorical story “Young Goodman Brown” is set in Salem, Massachusetts during the late sixteen hundreds in a time of religious hysteria and only a few generations after the infamous witch trials. Although "Young Goodman Brown" is a fictional tale, it is based on the cynical environment of Salem during this time period. The short story is filled with many literary elements, leading you to question what

Ambiguity in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1847 words - 7 pages Ambiguity in “Young Goodman Brown”             There is no end to the ambiguity in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”; this essay hopes to explore this problem.   Peter Conn in “Finding a Voice in an New Nation” makes a statement regarding Hawthorne’s ambiguity:    Almost all of Hawthorne’s finest stories are remote in time or place. The glare of contemporary reality immobillized his imagination. He required

Ambiguity in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1727 words - 7 pages Ambiguity in “Young Goodman Brown”               Peter Conn in “Finding a Voice in an New Nation” makes a statement regarding Hawthorne’s ambiguity:  “Almost all of Hawthorne’s finest stories are remote in time or place. The glare of contemporary reality immobillized his imagination. He required shadows and half-light, and he sought a nervous equilibrium in ambiguity” (82). There is considerable ambiguity in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young

Hawthorne's use of the narrator in Young Goodman Brown

777 words - 3 pages In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," the story is told through the eyes of a limited omniscient third-person narrator. This style is very accommodating to the story because it allows the author perfect opportunities to express his points. The narrator can both describe what Goodman Brown is doing, and also evaluate and comment on the characters actions. This is a tool of the author to use the narrator to express his own personal

Symbolism in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2494 words - 10 pages Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown                 Edmund Fuller and B. Jo Kinnick in “Stories Derived from New England Living” state: “Hawthorne’s unique gift was for the creation of strongly symbolic stories which touch the deepest roots of man’s moral nature” (31). It is the purpose of this essay to explore the main symbolism contained within Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “Young Goodman Brown.”   Stanley T. Williams in “Hawthorne’s

The Hero's Journey in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1241 words - 5 pages The Hero's Journey in Young Goodman Brown   Faith is accepting what you are taught or told without trying to prove or disprove it, rather than discovering it through experience. Those who believe in God have faith. It has not been proven that God exists; similarly, it has not been proven that humans are kind, honest, and good by nature. Young Goodman Brown is a character in "Young Goodman Brown," who leaves his known world in

Characterization in Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2898 words - 12 pages of characters: “The first batch of works I specified [including ‘Young Goodman Brown’] is essentially dramatic, its use of language is poetic, and it is symbolic, and richly so, as is the dramatic poet’s. . . Where the “symbol” is the thing itself, with no separable paraphrasable meaning as in an allegory: the language is directly evocative (27).   The flat character Faith is not developed like her husband; her dialogue is restricted to

Similar Essays

Deep Allegory In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2396 words - 10 pages Deep Allegory in Young Goodman Brown        Herman Melville in “Hawthorne and His Mosses” (The Literary World August 17, 24, 1850), comments on the deep allegory found within Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “Young Goodman Brown.” "Young Goodman Brown"? You would of course suppose that it was a simple little tale, intended as a supplement to "Goody Two Shoes." Whereas, it is deep as Dante; nor can you finish it, without addressing the

The Ambiguity In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

1655 words - 7 pages The Ambiguity in “Young Goodman Brown”        The literary critics agree that there is considerable ambiguity in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown.” This essay intends to illustrate the previous statement and to analyze the cause of this ambiguity.   Henry James in Hawthorne, when discussing “Young Goodman Brown” comments on how imaginative it is, then mentions how allegorical Hawthorne is, and how allegory should be

The Themes In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

3322 words - 13 pages The Themes in “Young Goodman Brown”              In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” the reader finds several themes. These will be discussed in this essay.   Morse Peckham in “The Development of Hawthorne’s Romanticism” explains what he interprets Hawthorne’s main theme to be:   Once the self has been redeemed from society it can be explored in its own terms, and for this purpose Hawthorne developed his

The Symbolism In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

2759 words - 11 pages  “Young Goodman Brown” – The Symbolism             Peter Conn in “Finding a Voice in an New Nation” states his evaluation of Hawthorne as a symbolist:   He was a secularized Puritan symbolist, who recovered the dramas enacted in cases of conscience by tracing the lines that bound men and women to their motives. Concerned with individuals as specimens or types, he endowed his characters with solemnly stylized features and then