Are the people, objects, and events in Goodman Brown's adventure invested with enough consistent symbolic resonance to justify calling his episode in the woods an allegory? Consider Brown's wife,...
Are the people, objects, and events in Goodman Brown's adventure invested with enough consistent symbolic resonance to justify calling his episode in the woods an allegory? Consider Brown's wife, Faith, as an allegorical figure. What do you make of Brown's statements "I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven" and "Faith kept me back awhile"? In the same light, consider the other characters Brown meets in the forest, the sunset, the walk into the forest, and the staff "which bore the likeness of a great black snake."
The people, objects, and events in this story are, indeed, invested with enough symbolism to justify calling the text an allegory. Salem is a place of apparent order, where all seem to follow the rules and abide by the dictates that keep society from turning into chaos—symbolic of any and every community with its own specific set of rules. The forest is a place outside these rules, a place of lawlessness and, hence, temptation. It symbolizes any temptation that might compel a person to behave in a manner which is out of sync with the rules they desire or purport to follow.
Brown, an everyman character as indicated by his common name, thinks of himself as a "good man" even though he is quite willing to meet and walk with the devil in the forest. Many Puritans did, which, Hawthorne points out, makes it ironic that "Goodman" and "Goodwife" were common titles. His "Faith"—a symbol of his Christian faith—"kept [him] back awhile"—almost preventing him from going into the woods (i.e....
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