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In Young Goodman Brown?s story colours are really significant due to their symbolic meaning. According to eNotes editorial, Puritans generally worn grey and drear clothes and did not adorn themselves with pretty colorful ribbons, but Faith’s ribbons suggest a youthfulness and a slight “bending of the rules”. So Faith is not trying to make a big statement with her pink ribbons; she just wants to look pretty and maybe stand out from the sad and dark colours their fellow Pur.
Kelley, however, says that the ribbons are not only setting Faith apart from the grey crowd, but they symbolize the difference between being and seeming. As Young Goodman Brown goes into the woods, these ribbons end up representing the contrast between appearance and reality: Faith may look childlike and innocent, but she’s really fallen from grace and has lack of moral soundness. This can be seen in the following quote:
“So they parted; and the young man pursued his way, until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back, and saw the head of Faith peeping after him, with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons”.
The phrase “in spite of her pink ribbons” is an important detail which helps us understand that though Faith may look uncorrupted but she really has lost her moral grounding. In fact, it is important to recognize that Hawthorne decided against the colour white, which most usually represents purity as Vaz da Silva (245) defends, white stands for luminosity and untainted sheen, thus for luminous heaven as for purity.
Through this, Hawthorne is saying that not even Faith is entirely pure. Keil (38) sais that Faith’s ambiguity is portrayed when she does not wait for Goodman to return to kiss her, in her thrusting her own head through the doorway and “letting” the breeze animate the ribbons. As a matter of a fact, “letting” combined with the thrusting itself raises questions about who is in control of the action.
(Levy 124) agrees with this duality: “The ribbons are in fact an explicit link between two conceptions of Faith, connecting sweet little Faith of the village with the woman who stands at the Devil’s baptismal font. We can legitimately disagree about the meaning of this duality; the fact remains that in proposing that Faith’s significance is the opposite of what he had led the reader to expect, Hawthorne violates the fixed conceptual meaning associated with his character”.
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