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allegorical story

An allegory is an extended narrative in prose or verse in which the author describes one subject under the guise of another. The objects, events, or people are presented symbolically, so the story conveys a meaning other than and deeper than the actual incidents or characters described. There are two main types of allegory: 

1) Historical or political allegory in which the characters and the action represent or allegorize historical personages and events, 

2) Allegory of ideas, in which the characters represent abstract concepts and the plot serves to communicate a doctrine or thesis. 

Young Goodman Brown belongs to the latter type. The story is deeply concerned with evil, the terrifying manner in which evil takes hold of man. The protagonist of the story is Goodman Brown, an allegorical name that stands for “every man” of the allegorical drama - of that name. His wife is named, allegorically, Faith. She stands for true Christian faith and virtue. Goodman Brown’s journey into the forest is suggestive of man’s surrender to temptation leading to the voluntary desertion of faith, home, and security. 

One evening Goodman Brown takes leave of his wife, Faith, because he is setting out on an errand of evil through a very dense forest for one night. This taking leave of Faith allegorizes man’s willing desertion of faith, which he thinks temporary, for after that night he will cling to her skirts, and follow her to heaven. In the forest, he meets a man of about fifty years who resembles Goodman Brown so much that he has been called the elder Goodman Brown. This resemblance indicates Goodman Brown’s inheritance of evil. The story allegorizes the fact that man is inherently disposed to evil, and once in its grip, cannot wriggle out. Though Young Brown had conflicts in his mind several times about the justifiability of the course he was taking, he was ultimately overcome by his inherent tendency to evil. He was going on an evil mission without any reason and took leave of his newly married wife, all of a sudden, on an evening. The elderly man who looked much like himself and with whom he came across in the forest revealed to him that his father and grandfather had also been his disciples in the matter of doing evil things. Young Brown also found Goody Cloyse as a member of the evil communion. He found the minister and deacon Gookin riding to the congregation of evil people. 

Last of all, what gave a staggering blow to his remaining goodness was the conversion of his wife, Faith, to evil. All these instances of evil people around him created in him a belief that was confirmed by the dark figure of the fiend who asserted that evil was the only happiness of man. Here, through the character of Young Brown, Hawthorne depicts the human tendency to evil.

allegorical story


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