“Young Goodman Brown” and “Rip Van Winkle” Allegorical Writing
Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Irving both use allegories in “Young Goodman Brown” and “Rip Van Winkle” to convey certain meanings throughout their stories. An allegory is a literary device that is hidden with complex meanings. These complex meanings can be seen through symbolic figures, imagery, events, or actions, all in which create the political, moral, and spiritual meaning these authors are trying to convey to the reader. By reading and understanding Hawthorn and Irving’s stories, the purpose behind each story can be seen through the allegorical writing.
Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts the story “Young Goodman Brown” to be a religious allegory, he does so by including Christianity, Satan, and the devil in his allegory. Goodman Brown is a Puritan minister, but don’t let that fool you. He later lets his beliefs and pride interfere with the relationships he has within the community. Hawthorne writes this story as an allegorical writing to express what happens when one chooses to turn their back on God. Faith, Goodman Brown’s wife plays a major role with being an allegorical symbol. Faith is used to symbolize Goodman Brown’s faith in Christ, his marriage, and everything he does in life. Goodman Brown is wanting to get away, but his wife, Faith, but she does not want him to leave. When Goodman Brown chooses to leave his “faith” behind, he chooses to open up the door for sin to come in. In fact, he will make a mistake that he will never be able to fix. Goodman says to his wife, “My love and my Faith,” replied young Goodman Brown, “of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done ‘twist now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married!” (Hawthorne). This is one of the many allegory examples Hawthorn uses in the beginning of this short story. When Goodman Brown says his “love” and his “Faith” he is referring to not only his wife, but also talking about his “faith” with God. Goodman Brown is saying his goodbyes to his wife, as he heads into the woods for his adventurous journey that awaits ahead of him. Once being in the woods for a while, Goodman Brown approaches a figure of a man. “You are late, Goodman Brown,” said he. (Hawthorne). “Faith kept me back awhile,” replied the young man, with a tremor in his voice, caused by the sudden appearance of his companion, though not wholly unexpected.” (Hawthorne). Hawthorne uses “Faith” again to express allegory in his writing. In the quotes above, Goodman Brown is referring to “Faith kept me back awhile” as not only his wife, Faith, holding him back from going into the woods, but also the “faith” within himself, the religious faith is holding him back from the devil. Hawthorn’s fiends and devils, rarely presented in corporeal form, generally prove to be a force that corrupts mankind in the realm of the psyche (Maus).
The further you read into this story, you can grasp that Young Goodman Brown is actually having to search for himself, because he left everything he was accustomed to behind. However, once he has the meeting with the devil in the woods, his whole demeanor changes. The meeting he has results in his pride being at an upmost high, it starts to affect his relationship with his community, and eventually making himself his own enemy. Since Goodman Brown turns his back against his faith, he is not able to reclaim it. Sadly, he will live the rest of his life alone, separated, and in misery. Not only is he separated by everyone in the community, but he is separated from God. It is just him, Goodman Brown.
As seen in the previous story, “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, it is written as an allegorical writing. Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” is also written in the form of allegorical writing for the reader to be able to fully understand the message that the story is trying to portray.