The Symbolism Of The Devil In Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown

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In “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne the old man is a symbol for the Devil. The old man appears as soon as Goodman Brown mentions the Devil, carries a staff that resembles a serpent, and the way the old woman reacts to the old man. By creating a physical embodiment of satan in the work, the author demonstrates how even the spiritually strongest can fall into temptation and sin. Straightaway, as soon as Goodman Brown enters the forest he imagines seeing the Devil and the old man appears. He says “ ‘What if the Devil himself should be at my very elbow!’ ” and the old man appears immediately (Hawthorne 608). The author wanted to clearly illustrate his use of the old man to represent the Devil and therefore allowed the old man to appear at Goodman Brown’s mention of the Devil. The author wants to establish the man as a symbol for the Devil right away to start setting up the interaction between Goodman Brown and the old man and to establish the effects of temptation on a supposedly strong man of faith.…show more content…
His staff “bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent” (Hawthorne 608). The serpent is known universally to represent the Devil because the Devil takes on the form of a serpent in the bible, accordingly, the old man yielding a serpent-esque staff sets him up to signify the Devil. Hawthorne solidifies the image of the Devil tempting and forcing a man of faith to fall into sin through the interaction between Goodman Brown and the old man with the addition of this detail and confirmation of the old man symbolizing the
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