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lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because the story is a great example of allegory, you could probably make a case that everything in the story as some symbolic significance.  The settings are symbolic -- the town is civilization and rational behavior; the forest is a "moral wilderness" where Brown is tempted by the Devil's promises.  The name of his wife, Faith, is symbolic.  In each place her name is used, the reader can substitute faith with a lower case "f" meaning his faith in God.  She is a symbol of goodness, and when he thinks he sees her ribbon in the woods, his Faith is gone (with the Devil) and his faith (in God, the goodness of people) is gone.  Faith's pink ribbons are an interesting color choice.  First of all, Puritans generally didn't not adorn themselves with pretty colorful ribbons, but Faith's ribbons suggest a youthfulness and a slight "bending of the rules."  The color is also created by mixing white (purity) with red (sin).  The color could then suggest that Faith is not wholly good or evil -- just a mix that is typical in human nature. 

Brown's journey through the woods is symbolic of a quest.  He must go on this mission, be challenged along the way, and come from the quest a changed man -- this certain happens to Brown.  The ending may not be all that happy for him, but he is the one who brings about his own misery, only able to suspect the worst in those around him.

epollock | Student

“Young Goodman Brown” is replete with symbols, such as sunset and night, for example, are ordinary enough realistically, but in the story they suggest the darkening life which Brown will be leading after his dark night of the soul. His marriage to Faith enables him to declare that his faith is gone, certainly an accurate and profound symbol. There are additional symbols, such as the withering twigs (paragraph 38) and the fire (paragraph 53), to name two. The symbols suggest death and hell. Ironically, though Brown disavows the devil (paragraph 68), his preoccupation with these diabolical symbols governs his character and behavior.

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Young Goodman Brown

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