Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown Irony, Symbolism, And Imagery

2168 words - 9 pages

Irony, Symbolism, and Imagery in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown"

Nathaniel Hawthorne, well known for his attacks on outlandish Puritan ideology in The Scarlet Letter, has always incorporated some aspect of his life and beliefs into his works. Once again, he has successfully conveyed a strong moral concept by utilizing various literary techniques to reveal a disturbing outlook into a man's soul. In "Young Goodman Brown," Nathaniel Hawthorne uses strong symbolism, irony, and imagery to illustrate the theme of man as one attempting to escape from evil; oblivious to the fact that sin is an escapable part of human nature. In the story, the reader is guided through Goodman Brown's ...view middle of the document...

Ironically, this idealistic (but not as convenient) pact will lead to Brown's eventual downfall when he will no longer look at his wife with the same faith when he finally returns at dawn. Furthermore, this ambitious promise also reflects how Goodman Brown feels he can do something evil and still go back to his "pure" ways and beliefs – not the case as Brown will later see.
Images of gloom and evil twist through the reader's mind as Brown takes "a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest" to finally meet the Devil, known to him as only a companion (Hawthorne 141). Ironically, Goodman thinks that the devil could be watching him when he is faced with the Devil personified in the figure of an ironically "grave" man (Hawthorne 141). Young Goodman Brown excuses himself for being late as "Faith" kept him back; a double meaning because his wife physically keeps him back while his faith in God psychologically also delays his meeting. As the two gentlemen start their journey through the woods, the Devil offers his staff, which resembles a serpent, to Brown (Hawthorne 141). This serpent can be looked at as an allusion to the snake in the story of Adam and Eve which led them to their expulsion from
paradise (through temptations). In this respect, a similar staff will lead Goodman Brown to the Devil's witch ceremony, destroying his faith in fellow men, and consequent expulsion from his utopia. Richard Fogle believes that the staff is an allusion to the biblical story of Aaron who had thrown down his rod before the Pharoah, thus linking Brown with a religious struggle, especially one "of the mind" (102).
Almost immediately as the two travelers resume their journey, young Brown declares that he no longer wishes to continue on his errand as he believes that he comes from a "race of honest men and good Christians" (Hawthorne 142). He further reasons that his father had never gone on such an errand, and therefore neither would he. The Devil is quick to challenge Brown's excuses by pointing out how he was with his father and grandfather as they were flogging a woman or burning an Indian village, respectively (Hawthorne 142). These acts are ironic since they are bad deeds done in the name of good, and clearly illustrate that "good Christians," like Brown's father and grandfather supposedly were, regularly partook in the same journey that he is against. Young Goodman Brown is further amazed at the Devil's further inclusion of the most religious leaders in the sort of wickedness all Puritans passionately abhorred and condemned (Hawthorne 142). Once again, Goodman Brown is bewildered when the Devil converses with Goody Cloyse, the teacher who taught him (Brown) catechism, as she holds the Devil with great reverence and speaks highly of the

evil ceremony she is making her way to (Hawthorne 143). Brown stubbornly refuses any further advancement in the journey and with great pride applauds
himself for resisting temptation and keeping a clear...

Other Essays On Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown-Irony, Symbolism, And Imagery

The Scarlet Letter 2 Essay

1687 words - 7 pages If one is to read Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter, they will forever remember the remarkable tale of a woman who succeeds against all odds. It extraordinarily describes the life and times of early Puritan colonists in America and the sin of adultery. The question of morality and its positive and negative effects is at the very core of this story. Is one night of sin worth a lifetime of hardships? I. Summary Hester Prynne, a member

Describes the use of imagry in the first 8 chapters of "The Scarlet Letter" by Hawthorne

482 words - 2 pages other, repeated imagery, Hawthorne achieves symbols, ideas, and characterization that do not need to be announced directly to the reader. This style of writing could be used to enhance my own style by helping me to be less blatant about ideas and symbols, and also to help achieve the use of more symbolism and detail in my writing.

In Speaking For Those Who Have No Means Of Speaking, Bruce Dawe Has Succeeded In Writing Poetry That Has Universal Appeal

1281 words - 6 pages dead young men. Hence, repetition is used effectively by Dawe to allow the reader to establish that none of these young men have been given the chance to satisfy the universal right to live a full life.Dawe's use of ringing onomatopoeic words and phrases, and dramatic imagery in Homecoming echo the savagery of war blighting life prematurely. The detailed procedure employed in bringing the dead soldiers home rings in the mind of the reader through

What Insights Have You Gained About Change From Robert Gray's "North Coast Town"?

1173 words - 5 pages circumstances and person, it can lead to an appreciation of life before change and change can appear in a variety of types including dynamic, visible and invisible. Robert Gray was able to emphasise these concepts/ ideas through his use of imagery, symbolism and tone.

Analyzing Literature

957 words - 4 pages , was content to continue to live the way she had been raised...simple and plain. I chose three literary devices that I believe Alice Walker used to create her story. The devices are imagery, satire, and irony. Alice Walker chose these devices for specific reasons, which, I will explain to you in the following paragraphs.Imagery is the use of words to affect the reader's senses. An author uses these words to give you a picture of what is happening in

The Use Of Symbols In "A Streetcar Named Desire" By Tennessee Williams

1368 words - 6 pages . "Tennessee Williams". The Literary Encyclopedia. 26 September2006.."A Streetcar Named Desire." Study World. 2008. Oct 13 2008..CORRIGAN, Mary Ann. "Realism and Theatricalism in A Streetcar NamedDesire," Modern Drama, 19 (Dec. 1976), 385-396."SYMBOLISM, IMAGERY, and IRONY IN THE PLAY." Pink Monkey. 2007. 14Oct. 2008.."Themes, Motifs & Symbols." Sparknotes. 2008. 13 Oct. 2008http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/streetcar/themes.html.Williams, Tennessee. A Streetcar Named Desire. Toronto: Penguin Books,1951.

Hester In The Scarlet Letter

983 words - 4 pages Throughout Nathaniel Hawthorne's book The Scarlet Letter, Hester's attitudes toward her adultery are ambivalent. This ambivalence is shown by breaking the book into three different parts. In each part her attitudes change significantly.Hester starts by seeing her act as a sin that she is sorry for committing. She changes and no longer feels sorry for the sin. Finally, Hester sees the act as not sinful, but she regrets committing it.In the first

Death and Sorrow in Sylvia Plath's "Lady Lazarus" - fragment analysis

516 words - 3 pages macabre imagery and irony at the men surrounding her in her third attempt to suicide. The doctors that saved her are her enemy, the Nazis, torturing her by forcing her to live.Even if she is different from them, their "opus", she is extremely valued by them because she is an experiment, and that also refers to the period when she was in a hospital, under treatment.She is in complete control of her body, she sees the rescue as a striptease show

A Comparison Of The Imagery And Language In "The Handmaid's Tale" And Judith Wright's Poems

1021 words - 5 pages language and imageries tend to describe the narrator's emotions and character, to let the readers link them to the environment, which Atwood comments on, to create irony. Therefore the readers will find a big difference in terms of the use of language and imagery in the two texts, even literally the same symbol is used.

Symbolism In "Macbeth"

1748 words - 7 pages "Macbeth", William ShakespeareExamine the role of symbolism in the playIn the tragedy of "Macbeth", William Shakespeare's use of symbolism is abundant. Symbolism and imagery are constantly present to emphasise and/or illustrate a point and add to the themes of the play. Things such as blood, clothes, light and darkness are repeatedly used to portray deeper emotions or circumstances not literally or clearly expressed verbally by the characters

George Eliot: The Use Of Objects And Imagery In "The Mill On The Floss"

4162 words - 17 pages instincts, bending and molding people unnaturally to fit the skewed standards of a patriarchal society. The connection between "man and matter", and the loss of natural liberties in conjunction with man being an "extension of matter", became a prevalent topic among many Victorian writers. George Eliot, the author of "The Mill on the Floss", used imagery and objects to show the deranged view of the importance of materialism in her time period. The

Similar Papers

Mythological Approach Essay

506 words - 3 pages A mythological critic examines a work for repeating patterns that show the reasoning for various aspects of human life. In other words, upon analyzing a piece of literature, one will discover the "why's" of the human race. This could be anything from birth and death to defeating death itself. A story that contains these aspects would be "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In this story, Goodman Brown has to take a spiritual

Nathaniel Hawthorne: "The Minister's Black Veil" A Study Of Puns And Biblical References

2277 words - 10 pages Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "The Minister's Black Veil" is ostensibly the story of a minister who, for the majority of his life, uses a black veil to hide his face from his congregation. This black veil causes those around him to question all but himself as to the its logic. Additionally, the black veil creates tension in some, grief in others and endless gossip for all. The ramifications of "The Minister's Black Veil" have been under the

Goodman Brown Essay/ Bookreport

798 words - 4 pages Have you ever had one of those days when you can't tell the difference between a dream and reality? You just want to pinch yourself because everything is so unbelievable. In the story "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathanial Hawthorne Goodman brown must have been dreaming. First because Faith's (Goodman Brown's wife) pink ribbon can't be in two places at the same time. Second the rock was cold and wet when a little before it was on fire. And the twig

Nothing Is Permanent But Change. This Means That Life Is

751 words - 4 pages Nothing is permanent but change. This means that life is a matter of change, and nothing can remain constant forever. Hester Prynne, the protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, is a clear example of the growth of a human being over a period of time. Her character and way of viewing life varies throughout the novel, as she goes from a prideful and glorious woman, to ashamed and hollow, to an example of redemption and self