Young Goodman Brown

1297 Words3 Pages
"Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne tells the story of a man that is tempted by evil. He discovers that sometimes evil triumphs over good, and this makes a dramatic impact on his future. Brown lets his excessive pride in himself interfere with his relations with his family and community after he meets with the devil, which causes him to live the life of an exile in his own community.

"Young Goodman Brown" begins in the street at Salem village where Goodman Brown will soon leave to begin his journey. Faith, Brown's wife, does not want him to go on this journey as she says to him, “ ‘prithee put off your journey until sunrise and sleep in your own bed tonight’ ” (Hawthorne 310-311). Goodman Brown replies, “ ‘of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee’ ” (311). The couple part and Goodman Brown sets forth on his journey. He is venturing into the woods to meet with the devil. This makes him feel guilty and he tries to justify the reason for his journey and lessen his guilt by saying, “ ‘After this one night I‘ll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven’ ” (311).

Goodman Brown heads down a “dreary road...” (311). He is then approached by his fellow traveler, who happens to be the devil. The devil had with him “a staff that bore the likeness of a great black snake" (312). The devil tries to convince Goodman
Brown to continue down the path with him, but Goodman Brown declares that he kept his meeting with the devil and no longer wishes to continue on. He says, “ ‘My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians’ ” (312). The devil is quick to point out, however, that it was he that was with Brown’s father and grandfather when they “set fire to an Indian village” and “lashed the Quaker women” (312). These acts show that he does not come from a family of "good Christians" (312). When Goodman Brown's first excuse not to carry on with the errand proves to be unconvincing, he says he can't go because of his wife, " ‘Faith. It would break her little heart; and I’d rather break my own’ ” (313). At this point the devil agrees with him and tells him to turn back and then points to a figure of a woman on the path.
Open Document