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Plot in Young Goodman Brown

Plot Examples in Young Goodman Brown:

Young Goodman Brown

🔒 15

"I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans;..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

This man, identified as the devil, seeks to manipulate Goodman Brown by claiming he knows Brown’s family well. If Goodman Brown believes that his family have always been good Puritans, then the revelation that they have all made deals with the devil undermines what Goodman Brown has thought to be true much of his life. Since Goodman Brown looks to others for spiritual guidance rather than evaluate behavior for himself, this manipulation begins to work, corrupting his prior certainties.

"My Faith is gone..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Brown's belief system, Puritanism, has disappeared along with Faith, his wife.  With this cry of desperation, Brown casts aside his doubts and races toward the devil's communion.

"yet with an uncertain sorrow..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Hawthorne skillfully injects some doubt in the reader's mind as to whether Brown is hearing his wife, Faith, protest loudly or protest in form only—as if she is not quite sure if what she is doing is an evil thing.

"almost kissed her husband before the whole village..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

This would have been a serious breach of etiquette in Puritan society, but it does indicate that, whatever has happened to Goodman Brown, Faith has not shared the experience.  

"Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Hawthorne is cleverly playing with his readers: Did Goodman Brown experience the events or did he have a horrible dream vision?  Puritans believe that either alternative is possible, but modern readers generally reject the notion that Brown actually experiences these events.  Whether real or a dream, this experience fundamentally changes Brown's life.

"“Faith! Faith!” cried the husband; “look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one.”..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Brown's attempt to save Faith is a good sign because it indicates his belief that she can still make the decision to reject Satan.  Brown may consider himself lost, but his attempt to save Faith signals that a vestige of faith still exists within him.

"now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

From a Puritan's perspective, there could be no sin quite as bad as blasphemy.  Goodman Brown's gestures and speech indicate that his mind has slipped its mooring.  Just as he has lost his faith, he has lost his mind, a sure sign of Satan's control.

"But he was himself the chief horror of the scene, and shrank not from its other horrors..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Here is a terrible irony: Goodman Brown, after finally losing his faith, becomes the scariest thing in the forest and hurries to join his wife in their new life as devil worshippers.  His loss of faith is complete at this point because the one he trusts the most, Faith, has betrayed his trust.

"The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon...."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Here is the final destruction of Goodman Brown's world: the ribbon provides proof that his faithful wife Faith has joined the devil's ranks.

"some of our community are to be here from Falmouth and beyond, and others from Connecticut and Rhode Island..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

This is meant to convince Goodman Brown that Satan's followers are not isolated to his village but come from all over New England.  That this speech comes from someone he believes is a strong Puritan is enough to convince Brown that Satan's worshippers are at every level of his society.

"and there was a world of meaning in this simple comment..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

The scene with Goody Cloyse is very important.  By showing Goody Cloyse to be a witch, Satan is turning Goodman Brown's world upside down.  If Goody Cloyse, who represents to Brown a strong woman of faith, is indeed allied with Satan, what is Brown to think about all the other people he believes are good Puritans?

"I helped your grandfather..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Throughout this paragraph, Satan explains to Goodman Brown how he assisted Brown's father and grandfather in committing atrocities against Indians and Quakers (a religious sect).  Hawthorne's view of Puritans as cruel and self-righteous is very clear in this passage.

"Still they might have been taken for father and son..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

This is Hawthorne's way of telling his readers that Goodman Brown and the old man may be related, not just look-a-likes.

"and that is full fifteen minutes agone..."   (Young Goodman Brown)

Goodman Brown should realize immediately that he is meeting a supernatural being. Boston is at least a day's journey from Salem, but the man has just told Brown that he was in Boston fifteen minutes ago.

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

Puritans believed that Satan could attack them in the form of dreams, so when Faith pleads with Brown to stay with her, she is genuinely afraid of what may happen to her while asleep.

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