Young Goodman Brown and the Characters
In the beginning of the story we are introduced to Young Goodman Brown as he says goodbye to his wife of three months, Faith. He tells her that he must go on this journey, and that he will be back by the morning. He never clearly states where he is going.
After Goodman Brown finally parts with Faith, he sets out into the forest where he meets a man. Although he was expecting to find this man, he is frightened when he sees his figure in the dark forest ahead of him. As they walk through the forest they talk about Goodman’s family. Goodman finds it hard to believe this man knew his father or grandfather because as the story goes on we see that he is clearly not a good character. The strange man talks on about how is close to Christians and all good people, even though by the tone of the story you get the feeling the man is evil. As the journey continues, they come across an old woman named Goody Cloyse.
Goody Cloyse is Goodman Brown’s catechism teacher who appears briefly in the woods. Goodman thinks that she is a spiritual guide but soon realizes she is part of the evil that surrounds him. The same is true with Deacon Gookin and the Minister who come riding along and Goodman realizes that these men are both apart of the evil. As the story goes on Goodman walks into in a clearing, there is a large fire and what appears to be a demonic ritual taking place and Goodman Brown thinks he sees his dead father. The leader of the evil discusses how everyone is evil and, he sees that the woman on the altar next to his deceased father is actually his wife Faith. He yells at he to resist the evil, but as he does so the entire scene disappears, and he is left alone, wondering what happened. When this happens its leads to wonder if it really happened or if it was simply a dream. The day after this event, Goodman Brown walks back to Salem and runs across many of the people he met during his dream. He is disturbed and ignores all of them, including his wife, whom he once treasured. The rest of his life is spent in misery as he thinks everyone is part of a secret evil demonic group.
In many ways, this story is very symbolical. It can be summarized by stating that this is one man’s realization that he is surrounded by opposing forces without ever knowing which of them are good or which are evil. Faith is the light in the story. The dark forest which is a symbol for things that are dark and mysterious, the mysterious man is a symbol for an evil person or maybe the devil himself. Goodman is leaving behind his Faith and asking for the truth about who is good or evil.
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