Goodman Brown

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade November 2001

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11/8/01 The story "Young Goodman Brown" takes place during the same time period as the Salem witch trials. The story is centered around Goodman Brown and his wife, Faith, and the people in their close-knit Christian town. The story begins with Goodman Brown preparing to leave on some sort of journey. He is telling Faith goodbye, and she is begging him to put off his trip until morning. She says "Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!". This leads the reader to believe that this particular night might be that of October 31st. He insists that he must leave right then, that his journey must be done between "now and sunrise". As he is walking away, he feels guilty and shameful for leaving her. He wants to tell her the purpose for the trip he is taking, but fears that she is too innocent and angelic to hear of the task that lies ahead of him.

Goodman Brown continues on his way and enters the dark forest. After walking for a little while, the figure of a man appears in front of him, telling him that he is late. He explains that Faith had caused him to be behind schedule, and they begin walking together. Goodman Brown is very apprehensive and somewhat frightened at how this man appeared almost out of nowhere. The other man senses his fear and encourages him along the way and offers him his staff if he needed it. Goodman replies that he has kept his promise by meeting him there, but was going to turn around and go home. He tells the man that he couldn't be involved in any wicked activity because he was from a good Christian family. The man, who the reader is starting to assume is the Devil or someone of his liking, tells Goodman that he knows his family very well. He says that he has been with them on various occasions. The mysterious man also tells Goodman that he associates with many religious people of his town quite often. Goodman doesn't seem to believe any of this, and insists that he is turning back. But in front of them, he sees Goody Cloyse, the woman who taught him catechism. He thinks that it is strange for her to be in the forest at that hour of the night. The evil one insists that he knows her and knows her reason for being out. He tells Goodman to step aside and he would go talk to her. Through this, Goodman realizes that Goody Cloyse isn't the person he thought she was. This bothers him even more and he sits down and tells the man that he is not going any further. The "evil" one continues to walk and goes out of sight.

As Goodman Brown is gathering his thoughts, he hears horses and two people talking in the distance. He knows that those people are going to the same place as Goody Cloyse. When the people get closer, he recognizes the voice of Deacon Gookin. As they go by, Goodman Brown decides he is not going to let the wickedness take over. He is determined to go to this place and stop it. So, he continues walking. He soon hears another group of people. This time he recognized Faith's voice, and as the people went past, he saw her pink hair tie. Goodman Brown was astonished. His precious Faith just couldn't be part of these evil doings. His emotions began to take over and he was raging. He tore his way through the forest, determined to stop the evil.

When he got to the meeting place, he saw four trees with their tops on fire. All of the people from his town were chanting the same thing. He was bewildered. There was some sort of pulpit with a dark figure standing behind it. The figure called for the converts to come forward and Faith started to walk toward the pulpit. Goodman Brown also left his hiding spot and started walking toward Faith. They both got to the pulpit and they looked at each other while the person behind the pulpit began to talk. Goodman looked into Faith's eyes and said "Faith! Faith! Look up to Heaven, and resisted the Wicked One!" We do not know if Faith obeyed or not, because that is basically where the story ends. Goodman realizes he is staggering along in the forest. The next morning when he walks into town, he sees Deacon Gookin preaching and Goody Cloyse teaching a little kid catechism. Everything seemed to be normal. He walks to his house and Faith is waiting out front for him, but he just walks past her and into the house. This is the end of the story. The reader doesn't know if it was all just one of Goodman Brown's dreams or if he actually saw these things.

In my opinion, I think Goodman may have been walking in the forest, but somewhere along the way I think he fell asleep. I think everything was just a dream. His entire town was not under the influence of the Devil. It just seems more like a dream than reality to me.