Symbolism,Characterization, And Faith In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

937 words - 4 pages

Symbolism,Characterization, and Faith in  Young Goodman Brown

 
   Faith is believing what you can’t see or touch. Faith is knowing something especially when there is no proof to back it up. “Young Goodman Brown” is a story about a man who leaves his wife, Faith, home alone for a night while he journeys with the devil down the road of temptation. During the course of his journey, the man sees many people who seem out of place, including his wife. When he returns home to Salem, he is a changed man. In this story, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism and characterization in order to imply that when an individual loses faith in the goodness of mankind, that individual may conclude that mankind (including friends and family) has given in to temptation.

            Hawthorne uses symbolism to imply that when individuals lose their faith in the goodness of mankind, they may begin to imagine that their peers have yielded to temptation. The character of Faith is Goodman Brown's spouse, but she is also a symbol of his faith in mankind. Brown's relationship with Faith changes as the story progresses, from tender and caring love to judgmental scorn. Brown's thoughts about Faith as he leaves on his journey are: "Poor little Faith...she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven"(212). This statement shows that the protagonist has a deep love for his faith and knows that it can be his salvation. Later in the journey Brown offers his faith as the last reason to abort his walk with the devil: "Well, then, to end the matter at once,... there is my wife, Faith. It would break her dear little heart; and I'd rather break my own!" (214). At this point his faith is still more important to him than his own life. Later, just after doubting whether there really is a Heaven, Brown's trust in his faith is changed as he imagines that even Faith is traveling along the same road of temptation. He exclaims, "My Faith is gone!" "There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil! For to thee is this world given"(217). Goodman Brown's faith in humanity is completely destroyed. He concedes the earth and all mankind to the devil. At the end of the story Hawthorne shows that Brown's love for his Faith is damaged forever: "...he shrank from the bosom of Faith, and at morning or eventide, when the family knelt down at prayer, he scowled, and muttered to himself, and gazed sternly at his wife and turned away"(221). The journey had changed Brown's relationship with Faith, because it changed his faith in mankind.

            Hawthorne uses characterization to imply that when individuals lose their faith...

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