Loss Of Innocence In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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Nathanial Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown,” follows a man, Brown, and his journey while introducing several themes. One of these themes is that the loss of innocence is inescapable. Hawthorne established this theme through plot structure, setting, symbolism, and allegory. To begin with, “Young Goodman Brown” is told in chronological order. Hawthorne uses this structure in order to imitate Brown’s loss of innocence. The exposition reveals that Brown lives in Salem, is going on some sort of journey that will bring about an “excellent resolve for the future” (317), and he has a wife, Faith. He then meets a fellow-traveler with a snake like staff, the inciting incident, who convinces him to continue his trip. As he keeps going he…show more content…
The color pink relates to purity and cheerfulness, while ribbons are usually what young girls wear in their hair. Overall the pink ribbons represent innocence and youth, and once the ribbon “fluttered lightly down through the air” Brown believes that Faith has lost her cleanliness (323). However, even when Brown wakes up and goes back home to find Faith is wearing the ribbons and suggests that his journey was a dream after all, he is unable to see her and the world as immaculate. The staff that “bore the likeness of a great black snake” symbolizes the biblical snake that convinces Eve to sin (318). When Brown accepts the fellow-traveller’s offer to use the staff “he flew among the black pines, brandishing his staff with frenzied gestures, now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting forth such laughter as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him” and loses his virtuousness as a result (324). Brown knew the fellow-traveller and the staff was evil after he overheard the fellow-traveler’s talk with Goody Cloyse, but he took the staff anyways defending that theme that everyone will lose their incorruption
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