Symbolism in “Young Goodman Brown” by Hawthorne

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Symbolism in the story

The introduction of symbols throughout the story is a literary technique frequently used by various authors. By incorporating particular signs and objects into the surrounding environment, it becomes possible to allude to specific details that specify the characters’ traits or their behavior, leading to a better understanding of the plot. As such, symbolism can significantly improve the readers’ impression of the novel, clarifying the topics discussed by the author (Xibo 397). Young Goodman Brown is a brilliant example of a short story where symbolism is used to enhance the meaning of the events and hint at the context surrounding the characters. The maple stick, the pink ribbons, and Brown’s journey itself are the prominent symbols in Young Goodman Brown, which enhance the storyline and refer to the major themes discussed in work.

The Maple Stick as a Sign of Satan

In Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne uses several objects as symbols that help the readers grasp the characters’ nature and their personal traits. The maple stick, or staff, carried by a fellow traveler whom Brown meets after entering the forest, is a clear symbol of Satan and his corruptive powers. The old man’s staff is vividly described as having the “likeness of a great black snake,” which “might almost be seen to twist and weiggtle itslef like a living serpent” (Hawthorne 5). The serpent and the snake frequently appear throughout the Bible, connected to Satan’s corruption of Eve and the original sin of temptation. Disguised as a serpent, Satan persuaded Eve to violate God’s law, which led to humanity’s banishment from Heaven (Xibo 398). Therefore, the serpent on the staff symbolizes the fellow traveler’s evil nature, alluding that it might be Satan himself attempting to corrupt Brown. By accepting the stick to improve his speed, Brown submits to the devil and begins his path toward sin.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown. Wildside Press, 2005.

Xibo, Tian. “Symbolism in Young Good Man Brown.” International Journal of English Literature and Social Sciences, vol. 6, no. 1, 2021, pp. 397–401.