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From "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathanial Hawthorne, how do the following lines...

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s1lkman | Honors

Posted May 2, 2012 at 11:58 AM via web

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From "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathanial Hawthorne, how do the following lines foreshadow and symbolize the main theme of the story?

“It was all lonely as could be; and there is a peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveler knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that with lonely footsteps he may be passing through an unseen multitude.”

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:38 AM (Answer #1)

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"Young Goodman Brown" is a character who ventures out in the night to go to a meeting in the forest. He's leaving behind his wife, Faith, which also symbolizes the fact that he is straying from his religious beliefs that he was taught as a child and has always upheld until this moment. Little does he know that he will be shocked and disheartened by who he also sees on the path to sin; he sees all of the people in his life who had taught him about living a good Christian/Puritan life. After the point of these quoted lines, he sees ancestors, teachers, preachers and even his wife who he thought was so pure and innocent! It is so earth-shattering for him that he is never the same for the rest of his life. The trees and boughs are filled with people he knows and his ancestors, so one could argue that the relationship between his family and the trees is like his "family tree". Roots is another word that is referenced to family and generations as well as with trees of life. He is about to go on a journey that will reveal that everyone has faced and succumbed to sin at some time in his/her life. Because of this night's revelation, Brown is naive when he enters the forest and he is disheartened when he leaves (or wakes up from the dream). He then lives a life of solitude within himself even though he has children and grand-children; he keeps this experience all to himself, as if know one could ever understand what he went through--and that is lonely like the footsteps among the multitude.

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