The Use Of Color Symbolism By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1120 words - 4 pages

Is it possible for an author to utilize so much symbolism that it captivates the reader to the extent of paralleling the tale with their own life? The principle of symbolism is quite evident in the story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “Young Goodman Brown”. Nathaniel Hawthorn’s work is immersed with symbolism with most of it deriving from his Puritan beliefs. The themes of sin, guilt, innocence, and lust come forth through the uses of color symbolism as well as visual clues. All of these things are dealt with in everyday life in modern America. “His ability to create vivid and symbolic images that embody great moral questions appears strongly in his short stories.” (Bloom)
To begin to understand the mind of Nathaniel Hawthorne you must first know a little about the magnificent man. Nathaniel Hawthorn was born in Salem Massachusetts during the time of the Salem witch trials. His father and grandfather took an active role in these trials. His interest in the parallel between sin and evil is very evident in the tale of “Young Goodman Brown”. Nathaniel Hawthorne is said to be first American writer who was conscience of the failure of mankind. “Young Goodman Brown” is said to be the one of the best works of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The use of his vivid symbolism and implanting his Puritan beliefs made the tale not only one of love but of disappointment in mankind as well. “Few of Hawthorne’s tales have elicited a wider range of interpretations than “Young Goodman Brown.” (Press)
From the very beginning of the tale the use of color imagery is very evident, for example; the tale begins at dusk of the day when all things are becoming dark. Evil loves the darkness and hates to be revealed in the light. Therefore this journey had to take place at night due to what the reader later finds out is the evil and deception of the devil. The pink ribbons in Faith’s hair are Hawthorne’s way to captivate the reader’s imagination. By doing so it makes the reader question as they are reading whether or not Faith is as pure as she portrays to be. “Those celebrated pink ribbons on Faith’s cap-the objects of an astonishing range of responses by critics of the story are vital to an understanding of her metamorphosis and of Brown’s desperate efforts to recover his faith.” (Bloom) As Goodman Brown enters into the forest Hawthorn utilizes once again the description of darkness to symbolize the forest as being a place of evil doings.
In the description of the staff that the old man held resembled that of a black snake. The use of the color black would indicate the possibility of the staff being a symbol of something evil, but the addition of snake was sure to set the reader at full attention. A black snake is what tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden in the Bible. Hawthorne utilized this color symbolism to warn of the evil doings or thoughts the older traveler was involved in.
After Goodman Brown was disappointed by hearing what the pastor and deacon of...

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