Literary analysis differs from the conventional book report in that you assume the reader of your analysis has read the story. Therefore, you should not rely heavily on plot summary but instead on interpretation. You focus on certain elements of the story and how the author uses these elements in the creation of meaning. "Young Goodman Brown" is a particularly appropriate piece to analyze because it is a moral allegory; that is, a story told with two levels of meaning: the literal and the symbolic. The symbolic meaning reflects moral themes. For example, when people look within for depravity, they can learn undesirable things about themselves, lose their faith, and alienate themselves from society. There are other moral themes that you can explore as well depending on your interpretation of the story. Your job is to show how Hawthorne develops the theme by focusing on his use of symbolism as well as his use of imagery in creating the mood that helps convey the theme.
Young Goodman Brown writing assignment
Symbolism: a definition with both common and literary examples
Metaphors: a definition with both common and literary examples
Imagery: a definition with both common and literary examples
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Scintillating video on formatting (below)