Analysis of Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown

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Period 1 AP Literature & Composition 24 October 2014 Analysis of Symbolism in Young Goodman Brown In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, Young Goodman Brown, the devil’s staff symbolizes the inevitable loss of innocence that will arise from the temptation of the sinful nature of man, probing at the idea that no one is truly pure. The beginning of Young Goodman Brown starts off with a sense of mystery and suspense. The audience understands that Goodman Brown is going on a “journey” in the woods of Salem. Hawthorne depicts Brown as a man who takes pride in his faith and his family. Shortly after he starts his journey, he meets with the mysterious traveler with a serpent on his staff. The traveler and Brown venture deeper into the forest and eventually meet with Goody Cloyse, who is revealed to be a witch. Brown and the traveler come across the deacon and minister of Brown’s hometown, discussing their love of “deviltry” and devil worship. Brown then hears the cry of his wife, Faith. This leads Brown to run through the forest searching for his beloved Faith, landing him in a meeting, where guilt, sin, and evil are worshiped. Goodman Brown then returns to Salem. The narrator never definitively states if Goodman Brown’s journey was real or all a dream. However, real or not, Brown spends the rest of his life suspecting that there is true evil in everyone. Young Goodman Brown bears a strong resemblance to the story of Adam and Eve where curiosity through temptation causes humanity to bear the original sin of the fall of man. At the start of Goodman Brown’s travel, he describes the traveler’s staff as one that “bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiosity wrought that is might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a live serpent.” The lifelike nature of the snake stems from the biblical reference of the demon snake that tempts Eve to take the fruit from
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