‘Young Goodman Brown’ one of the greatest short stories in American literature beautifully sketches how a young good man becomes evil and participates in an unholy communion. The story can be read as an allegory centering on the temptation everyone faces and on the human tendency to prejudge others on insufficient evidence. Hawthorne also points out the inherent fallacy in puritan faith and depicts Goodman Brown as an every man.
Young Goodman Brown a young and innocent man bids farewell to his young wife Faith. Goodman Brown feels strong attraction towards journey into the forest presumably for an evil purpose ignoring Faith’s imploring. He ventures into the gloomy forest of Salem and is soon approached by a man of about fifty who bears deceptive appearance. He bears a strange resemblance to him or his forefathers. His companion wore simple clothing but carried a staff that resembled a great black snake and seemed to move like a living serpent. He soon discovers that the fellow traveler is in fact the devil in disguise who is pressing hard to lead Goodman brown to the communion of evil.
After a while Goodman Brown sits down determined not to go any farther. The devil now realizes that his tricks are no longer taking hold of him so he goes ahead without him. As he sits Goodman brown thinks he hears the minister and Deacon Gookin on horseback discussing the night’s meeting and a young woman who would be taken into communion that night. This makes Brown even more uncomfortable. Goodman Brown begins to hear voices and among them the lamentations of Faith. He shouts her name but hears only an echoes and then silence. A pink ribbon Faith’s ribbon flutters down from above. ‘maddened with despair’ Goodman brown gives in to the devil and rushes forth into the forest laughing louder and louder until he reaches the gathering. There he sees an altar surrounded by four blazing trees. Many of the towns most honorable members were present as were some of the least welvomed the sinners and criminals. Goodman brown is led to the altar where a cloaked female figure is also led. A dark figure prepares to welcome them into the fold pointing to the crowd behind them the crowd young Goodman Brown had reverenced from youth. The figure revealed them all as sinners noting that ‘evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness’. The cloaked woman is revealed to be Faith. Before the figure could lay the mark of baptism on Goodman Brown he called to Faith to ‘look up to Heaven and resist the wicked one’. Immediately he finds himself alone in the forest. Whatever the case Goodman Brown is never the same again. He becomes ‘a stern a sad a darkly meditative a distrustful if not a desperate man.
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Thus it is clear from the above analysis that this story is about losing innocence and becoming evil in nature.