Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne

In the story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Goodman Brown takes a walk and joins a mysterious man on a journey. He is led to a ceremony that later on turns to be unholy. However, to his amazement, he is joined by many people who also happen to be some of the townsfolk, including his wife Faith. That said, the story is set in the city of Salem at a time when Christians and Puritans abolished witchcraft. It is based on Salem witches Trial that happened in 1692. “A marvel, truly that Goody Cloyse should be so far in the wilderness at nightfall,” said Goodman (P.5). The story presents a challenging dilemma of how to live with our knowledge of the dual nature of people around us and our own.

The story “Young Goodman Brown” is set in Puritan England. The story talks more of a religion that is strongly rooted in Christianity and a belief that the devil is the cause of all evil. The story is set in the city of Salem at a time when Christians and Puritans abolished witchcraft. The story tends to capture the kind of hypocrisy that exist in religion as well as the aspect of judging others. It captures a time when people would be judged and killed for being followers of the devil. The devil says, “…I helped your grandfather, the constable when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem; and it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip’s War” (Pg.2). Thus, the story was greatly influenced by what happens in religious settings.

Goodman Brown is brought out in the story “Young Goodman Brown” as a protagonist. He is described as a good Christian who takes pride in his family history of godliness and piety. In addition, Goodman is presented as a curious character who is very vulnerable to the feeling of self-doubt and suspicion. He displays corruptibility and innocence when he is torn between believing in the goodness or wickedness of the people around him. Goodman says in agony, “My Faith is gone!” cried he after one stupefied moment. “There is no good on earth, and sin is but a name. Come, the devil; for to thee is this world given” (P.5). Based on this, Goodman lost hope and concluded that everyone is evil.

On the other hand, Faith “Goodman’s wife” is displayed as the embodiment of innocence. Goodman believes that she is angelic and worthy, just like the name “Faith.” Her angelic nature is displayed when she begs Goodman to stay at home. “prithee put off your journey until sunrise and sleep in your bed tonight. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she’s a feared of herself sometimes. Pray tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year” (p.1). However, Goodman discovers that she too has been tempted by the devil to attend the satanic conversion ceremony. Goodman wondered where the angelic nature of Faith went to when she was being tempted. The unrevealed character of Faith is shown when the Goodman sees her at the ceremony.

A character like Goodman in the story “Young Goodman Brown” represents so many people in society. Goodman’s curious character leads him to a path to the discovery of hypocrisy in religion. “What God doth the wizard pray to?” quote Goodman Brown (P.3). Goodman was wondering what God the wicked and evil people he saw in the perceived dream prays to. Just like Goodman’s character led him to despise others, including his wife, represents the nature of the people judging others, forgetting their faults and mistakes in life. I am usually very fast at pointing out the errors of other people while at the same time, go slow at our faults. People often forget about their faults as they magnify others. Goodman forgot that he was lured too by the devil to the ceremony.


The story “Young Goodman Brown” is about the two sides of people, especially in religious life. Many people who live in Salem are wrongdoers, yet they declare or judge others as wicked. The main character is a young man known as Goodman Brown, whose decision to start a journey into self-scrutiny only lands him into a loss of self-belief and virtue. In this journey, he encounters a mysterious man who is later described as the devil. The devil persuades GGoodman until he ends up at a ceremony where he surprisingly finds other colleagues in Church and the wife. In regards to this, Nathaniel reminds the readers that even religious people can make a mistake as other people do in life. The dilemma of disbelief that clouds the mind of Goodman represents the problems that people face in life caused by religious people.

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