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

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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 inner spiritual conflict between good and evil as he takes a journey which will lead him to a life of despair because of the temptations he succumbs to.

Symbolism and Irony in "Young Goodman Brown"

Goodman Brown's journey begins at about midnight in Salem, as he is leaving his good wife Faith, explaining to her how "this one night I must tarry away from thee" (Hawthorne 140).

This simple and rather harmless scene in actuality carries great importance. First of all, Salem is an allusion to the center of the unjust witch trials where harmless women were burned by Puritan leaders (in 1692); thus, a prime setting for an ungodly and eerie story that is about to take place (Turner 52). Turner elaborates that this infamous village was the center of witchcraft delusion, where those chief in authority as well as obscure

young citizens like Brown were enticed by "fiendish shapes into the frightful solitude of superstitious fear" (53). In addition, Goodman Brown and Faith are important allegorical symbols which will later be pitted against evil; therefore, the good man Brown is not only leaving his wife for the night,