Hawthorne’s Life through Symbolism
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American writer who is very well known for his use of symbolism. In many of Hawthorne’s short stories, he uses symbolism to express the conflicts he faced within his life. Some of these short stories include “Young Goodman Brown,” “Minister’s Black Veil,” “The Birthmark,” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” Within his work, Hawthorne tells great tales where each character faces a different issue in which they must make a decision such as one’s that Hawthorne had to make. Some decisions Hawthorne made in his very own life were his families’ beliefs of Puritanism and if he should follow their beliefs, conflicts with learning about his ...view middle of the document...
Faith’s purity and innocence is easily recognized by the pink ribbons she wears in her hair. These ribbons symbolize a sign of heavenly faith. Another way the reader sees Faith’s character is when Hawthorne’s writes, “Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street…,”(Young Goodman Brown,58). This lets the reader know about Faith’s marriage to Brown. The quote also keys the reader in on Faith’s name being appropriate for her, meaning she is heavenly.
Later in the story , the pink ribbons play a major part.. Brown sees the pink ribbons flying through the air. This is a symbol of Brown’s loss of faith in human kind. The ribbon symbolizes Brown’s loss of faith in good. Brown cries, “My Faith is gone!”(Young Goodman Brown,65). Again, the play on the name, “Faith,” suggests that not only is Brown’s wife gone, but so is his faith in the goodness in the world.
Brown has a conscious decision he must make, and it can be classified into Freud’s psychoanalytical process. Faith is like Brown’s superego because she is morally right and tries to
perfect everything. Faith tries to put off Browns “errand.” Brown is struggling with Faith, his superego. Faith tells him “Dearest heart pr’y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your bed tonight,”(Young Goodman Brown,58). Here, the reader is sees the struggle between the superego and the ego.
Brown, of course, is the ego part of the process. He is the ego because he must satisfy both the id and superego. Brown tells Faith, the superego, after she begs him not to go on the journey, “My love and my Faith of all nights in the year, this is one night I must tarry from thee,”(Young Goodman Brown,58). Brown is not sure whether to listen to his wife or go on his errand with the traveler.
Finally, the Brown’s id is like the traveler he meets to go on this errand. He is like the id because he wants what he wants and he wants it now. The traveler keeps pushing Brown along on the path, no matter how many times Brown wants to stop. Obviously, the traveler, the id, won this conscious decision because Brown continues on with this errand.
As Brown continues on the path, he travels through,” a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind,” (Young Goodman Brown,59). This path symbolizes the evil that awaits Brown and the evil that surrounds him. The path which “closes immediately behind,” can be symbolized as Brown never returning to his innocence, which also foreshadows the ending of the story. The trail is long and windy and symbolizes how far Brown’s conscious must travel from innocence to realize the evil in his world
Brown travels onto the path and meets his fellow traveler, who Hawthorne describes as a man who looks a lot like Goodman Brown, but the reader knows the traveler symbolizes the devil. This traveler offers Brown his...