Young Goodman Brown

The devil’s serpent staff Symbol Analysis

The devil’s serpent staff Symbol Icon
When Goodman Brown meets the man whom Hawthorne later reveals to be the devil, Hawthorne draws attention to the man’s staff, which resembles a black serpent and almost seems to twist like a live snake. The staff strongly suggests the man’s supernatural and sinful nature, and it connects “Young Goodman Brown” to the Biblical story of Adam and Eve’s temptation by a serpent to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. Goodman Brown and Faith, like Adam and Eve, are tempted to do what is forbidden in their community and lose their innocence for the sake of knowledge.

The devil’s serpent staff Quotes in Young Goodman Brown

The Young Goodman Brown quotes below all refer to the symbol of The devil’s serpent staff. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Young Goodman Brown published in 2011.
Young Goodman Brown Quotes

But the only thing about him that could be fixed upon as remarkable was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent.

Related Characters: The Devil
Related Symbols: The devil’s serpent staff
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

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The devil’s serpent staff Symbol Timeline in Young Goodman Brown

The timeline below shows where the symbol The devil’s serpent staff appears in Young Goodman Brown. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Young Goodman Brown
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...in the court of a King. The man’s one unforgettable feature is the large snake-shaped staff he carries, which in the shadowy light of the forest seems to be alive and... (full context)
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
Sensing that Goodman Brown is tiring, the man offers him his staff to help pick up the pace. Goodman Brown refuses and begins to make his case... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
...minister at church if he continued onward. The man bursts into violent laughter, and his staff seems to wiggle along. Finally, Goodman Brown argues that he can’t go with the man... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
...a baby. She asks for the devil’s arm, but instead he gives her his snake staff. When Goodman Brown looks again, Goody Cloyse and the staff are gone (full context)