Theme Of Innocence In Young Goodman Brown

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The Loss of Spiritual Innocence as Seen through Imagery and Symbolism The theme of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short fictional story, “Young Goodman Brown” is the loss of spiritual innocence. Young Goodman Brown goes on an evening walk in the woods and meets the devil along the way. The devil shows Goodman Brown that all the people Brown deems to be spiritually strong, from his catechism teacher to the minister in his church, are imperfect people who have sin in their lives. Hawthorne uses religious symbolism and imagery to describe Goodman Brown’s fall from spiritual purity to spiritual misery. The experience can be seen the symbol and imagery of the path, the old man’s twisted staff and Goodman Brown’s wife Faith.
Goodman Brown tells his wife that he must go on a journey. Although he implies it is a physical journey, the journey turns out to be a spiritual one for the battle for his soul. At the edge of the forest, just as he is entering the woods, Goodman Brown “. . . beheld the figure of a man, in a grave and decent attire, seated at the foot of an old tree” (Hawthorne 78). The old man, who is really the devil, invites Goodman Brown to continue the journey with him down the path. The old man tells Goodman Brown that his father and grandfather, “. . . were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk we have had along this path and returned merrily after midnight” (Hawthorne 79). The path is a symbol of the spiritual journey a person takes that leads them to either God or
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