The Allegory of "Young Goodman Brown" Nathaniel Hawthorne writes about the Puritan religion and the way that Puritans tend to believe they are better than anyone else when in reality, they have as much evil in them as the non-puritan does. "Young Goodman Brown" is a story of a man traveling a road of faith and being tempted by evil. Hawthorne uses allegory to show the darker side of Puritanism. Goodman Brown must take a journey where he must make the choice to accept or refuse the devil. Faith, Goodman Brown's wife, is used as an allegory.
The name is indicative of her nature. The story supports this in the beginning with the phrase, "And, Faith, as the wife was aptly named... ." Faith is persistent in her efforts to keep Goodman from going on his journey. In other words, Faith tries to keep the "goodman" off the path of sin and evil. Faith says, .".. prithee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed tonight." This is also supported when Young Goodman Brown finally meets the travelers in the woods.
The traveler tells him he is late and Goodman responds by saying, "Faith, held me back." Literally he is speaking of his wife, allegorically he is referring to his faith in God. Faith is a constant in Goodman Brown's life. A second allegorical parallel that reinforces theme is the way that Hawthorne uses Faith's pink ribbon to symbolize an impurity. Pink, is made by mixing half red and half white, red symbolizes the devil and white is a sign of purity. He mentions the ribbon four different times in the story. The first mentioning of the ribbon is in the first paragraph when he says, "And Faith thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap...
." the fourth paragraph states, .".. said Faith with the pink ribbons." The pink ribbon is representing faith and its impurities. The town's faith is impure and the faith that Brown has in his community leaders is also impure. The next mentioning of the pink ribbon is while Goodman is in the forest.
Goodman is yelling for his "Faith", and Hawthorne writes, "But something flutters lightly down through the air, and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it and beheld a pink ribbon." The allegorical meaning of the pink ribbon is the loss of Goodmans faith in people whom he has placed on a pedestal and considered Godly. It also means that everyone has some evil within him or her. And Finally, The name Goodman is used as an allegory. In Hawthorns time the term good man was used as description of a person of proper lineage.
Hawthorne exploits this lineage with the battle between Goodmans faith and the path of evil. Goodman explains to the devil that he is from a family of good people who have never been to the forest meaning, they were pure and had no evil in them. Hawthorne uses this faith Goodman has in his family lineage to criticize the Puritanistic religious beliefs. Goodmans faith is quickly redirected by the Devil when he explains the long walks he had taken with Goodmans ancestors. The devil says, "And it was I that brought your father the pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village." All this leads to the conclusion that there is not truly a 'Goodman'. Nathaniel Hawthorne uses this story to prove the impurities in the Puritanistic religion.
He has given the reader the hard cold truth of what Puritanism could do to the individual. Brown's failure to accept the humanness in people leads to his own demise. Goodman Brown could not accept reality, even in his self.