Young Goodman Brown is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. This text presents a brief plot overview of it.
Here Is a Synopsis of the Story
The story begins with Goodman Brown saying farewell to Faith, his wife. They are outside his home in the village of Salem. Goodman tells his wife that he has to travel at night despite his wife insisting that he stays. He urges her to pray and go to sleep early, and she would be safe.
Goodman leaves on the road that led through a dark forest. He constantly takes around with the fear of what might be in the trees watching, whether the Indians or the devil and this thought scare him. He encounters a man who suddenly greets him like he was expecting him there. This man has normal clothing and a walking stick which has a serpent carved on it.
This man sees his curiosity about the stick and offers it to him, but Goodman rejects it. He goes on to say that he showed up because he made the promise he would attend the meeting and that he would later want to go back to the village. Goodman Brown informs this man of his family and how they were good folks committed to Christianity and that he is ashamed to be associated with the man. The man states that he used to know Goodman’s father, grandfather and also the state’s governor. These words confuse him, and he says that he would want to get back home to Salem for the sake of Faith. The two men then come across an old woman whom Goodman recognizes as Goody Cloyse, who was a respected figure in their village. He decides to hide with the aim of not being seen associating with the man. The man touches Goody’s shoulder. She calls him the devil and reveals that she was a witch, who was headed to an evil ceremony in the forest.
Goodman still insists he wants to turn back even after this information. The man tells him that he should get some rest. He then gives him his staff and tells him to use it to get to the ceremony if he changed his mind. The man leaves, and Goodman sits on the ground. He hides again after hearing some horses on the road.
He is surprised to hear the voices of the deacon and the church minister who were also attending the ceremony. He swears to himself that although the rest of the world had made alliances with the devil, he would remain faithful to God. Goodman starts to hear voices from this ceremony and thinks that he heard Faith’s. He yells out her name. A pink ribbon from Faith’s cap falls from above.
Since Faith had also embraced the darkness, there was no good left. Goodman takes the staff, and it takes him to the ceremony. When he arrives at the forest clearing where it took place, the trees surrounding the area are burning. With the light from the fire, he can identify some members who were respected in the community. However, he does not see his wife and hopes that she is not there.
A figure makes the appearance on a certain rock and asks this congregation to bring the converts forward. Goodman envisions his father calling him to step forward but his mother holding him back. Before he can make up his mind, he is dragged forward by the deacon and the minister. Goody Cloyse and another woman named Martha Carrier also push another robed person with a concealed identity. The figure tells the two to reveal themselves to each other. The other convert is his wife, Faith. Goodman tells his wife to stare at the heavens and resist the evil, and suddenly he is alone in the gloomy forest.
The morning after, he goes back to Salem and everyone he comes across is evil in his eyes. He passes the minister, and even hears Gookin the deacon praying. He refuses the blessings and calls out Gokin as a wizard. He then sees Goody Cloyse and a young girl discussing the bible and grabs the little girl from her. He finally arrives at his house where he sees his wife and fails to embrace or greet her. Goodman has changed and does not trust any of the villagers. It is not clear whether the forest encounter was an illusion but Goodman Brown lives the rest of his life in fear.