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Foreshadowing in Young Goodman Brown

A Pattern of Foreboding: Hawthorne inserts touches of foreshadowing throughout the story in order to heighten the suspense. In all cases, these touches contribute to an atmosphere of foreboding. Whether Faith is warning of an ominous dream, the devil is discussing the evils of town life, or Goody Cory is cryptically speaking of a young man expected to take communion in the woods, the story’s moments of foreshadowing always point towards darkness ahead.

Foreshadowing Examples in Young Goodman Brown:

Young Goodman Brown

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"“You are late, Goodman Brown,” said he. “The clock of the Old South was striking as I came through Boston, and that is full fifteen minutes agone.”..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Thus far, the woods are depicted as dangerous and scary as Goodman Brown ventures further into a place that he believes to be sinful. However, this man, whose nature will shortly be revealed, claims that he has recently come through Boston. Given his nature, this statement suggests that evil and sin are not limited to the wilderness but can also exist in settled communities, foreshadowing one of the lessons Goodman Brown will learn before the end of the tale.

"A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts that she's afeard of herself sometimes...."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Faith’s claim that she is “troubled with such dreams and such thoughts” is significant. For Puritans, one’s thoughts and dreams pose a real danger to one’s spiritual well-being because sin is not limited to physical actions. This claim suggests that Faith herself is not as innocent and pure as Goodman Brown believes her to be.

"they tell me there is a nice young man to be taken into communion tonight..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

This can be read as a possible foreshadowing of what Goodman Brown is walking to right now.

"as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. ..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The choice of words here, "dream" specifically, suggests that the rest of the story may follow in a dream-like fashion. The look on her face may foreshadow what is to come.

"there is a goodly young woman..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

This foreshadows the presence of Faith at Satan's convocation in the forest.

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