Young Goodman Brown Plot Summary

Young Goodman Brown Plot Summary
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The story “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne depicts a young man that started on a journey. In the beginning, the story provides a background of Mr. Goodman who had been recently married to a woman named Faith. The author during the first introductory part of the story utilizes words and phrases to symbolize the great love these two lovebirds have for each other. One of the symbols utilized early in the story was the pink ribbons in the cap Faith had. The ribbons to me symbolized the newly created relationship that for the first time was going to be facing a bit of uncertainty due to the fact that Goodman Brown had to go on a journey outside of his hometown.

Goodman Brown started on his journey and he immediately met an older person who joined him on his travels. The author of the story added a bit of suspense and mystery to the journey by describing the road and its surroundings as a place where there could be a danger. A specific example of this suspense is when Hawthorne mentions the possibility of Indians lurking in the woods who could potentially cause harm to Goodman the older traveler. Three words or phrases utilized to describe the setting were dreary road, gloomy trees, and innumerable trunks.

 The story goes on and begins to provide a historic view of how the Goodman family specifically the men have sacrificed themselves, but none of them had ever gone on a journey such as the one Goodman Brown was encountering. Young Goodman Brown was a bit scared, but he much courage and wanted to continue despite his inner fears. In this section of the story, the author utilized symbolic figures to such as referring to the older man as a serpent that was trying to instill knowledge and courage into Mr. Brown. I think the reason such symbolic figures were used was to compare the knowledge being provided to the innocent Goodman Brown to the knowledge a serpent offer mankind in the Garden of Eve.

 Fear was instilled in the mind of Goodman by the serpent to test young Goodman Brown, but when this occurred Mr. Brown utilized the best technique a man can use to push away any fears which is love. The love he felt for his wife Faith motivated him and helped continue on his journeys despite certain negative feedback he was receiving from an old lady he met in his path. The character of the old woman was utilized in the story as a figure that challenged the ideas of Goodman Brown. If this story is more symbolic than what I think it is possible that the old woman represents Goodman’s Brown conscience since the character is trying to persuade Goodman to forget about his true love which is wife. Goodman seems to be a bit melancholic and does not seem to be dealing well with the fact that he is away from his wife for the first time since their matrimony started.  

In the middle of the story, the first clue was given of what was the reason for the journey Mr. Goodman had embarked on. It mentions that he wanted to meet his minister in the morning. Goodman kept utilized his love for his wife as his motivation for continuing on the journey. Suddenly as he was in the woods he hears horses coming near him and he hides. The horsemen serve a great purpose for Mr. Brown. He heard their conversation which included the potential places in the journey where there could be danger from the Indians. The Indians through the story are depicted as a danger to the civilized man. The constant mention of Indians gives the reader an idea of the time setting in which the story is taking place. The setting is taking place sometime between the 18th and 19th centuries in America. Based on the author’s reference to the Indians the people are at war with the Indians which means that if Mr. Brown were to encounter a crowd of Indians he would truly be in great danger.

In the story, the devil was mentioned on many occasions to symbolize many bad things. The people living in this era have deep religious beliefs and lack certain knowledge of basic reality as far as having a belief system based on myths. The church seems to have great control over the life of the people along with power over the state. The story got a bit weird as Goodman Brown begins to speak words about his wife as if she was dead or something. I believe that at this point in time Mr. Brown was simply having hallucinations due to his exposure to the wilderness for several days. Goodman simply could not handle the pressures of the journey and had suddenly reached the breaking point. A quote from the story that summarizes the setting of the journey and Goodman Brown has been going through is “The whole forest was peopled with frightful sounds–the creaking of the trees, the howling of wild beasts, and the yell of Indians” (Hawthorne). Goodman’s state of mind was only getting worse. He was suddenly fighting with the wind as he becomes more frustrated and farther away from reality.

 Goodman Brown reached the end of his journey as he reached a town where the Deacon Gookin was located. The religious leader stood in front of a crowd speaking to them about different things in life with a religious melody throughout his message. The author at the end finally revealed what had been occurring all along. The whole story was based on a dream young Goodman Brown had. The overall purpose of the dream is unknown, but a potential interpretation of the dream is that Goodman may have been having some marital problems for which he was seeking help from God in order to provide him with guidance. The story was very well written because I myself had no idea that it was all a dream. The utilization of symbolism throughout the story created a lot of suspense and kept the reader guessing what would happen next within the story.


Hawthorne, N. Young Goodman Brown.