Analysis of Character in “Young Goodman Brown”

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, “Young Goodman Brown,” the title character is a man who sets out on a mysterious journey into the woods and unknowingly ends up discovering a truth about himself that he cannot reconcile. At the beginning of the story, a newly-married Goodman Brown bids his young wife, Faith, goodbye and sets out on his journey to meet “a grave and decently attired” elderly man. While at first reluctant to keep on his journey, Goodman Brown allows himself to be persuaded by the elderly man to continue deeper into the forest. Once they reach their destination, Young Goodman Brown is shaken by the discovery that he is at a Black Mass, that most of the townspeople, including his wife are there and that his elderly companion is actually the Devil. Realizing that Faith is about to pledge herself to the Devil, Goodman Brown cries out in dismay. Suddenly, he finds himself standing alone in the forest, unsure if what he “witnessed” was real or a dream. Unable to cope with the discovery from his journey that all men, including himself, have the capacity for evil, Young Goodman Brown changes from a confident, religious and trusting man to one ruled by disillusionment, suspicion and fear.

In the beginning of the story, Goodman Brown is confident and trusting in what he sets out on his journey, reassuring Faith that he must go and that everything will be okay. As he walks through town, his confidence and intent falters when he spies Faith watching worriedly from a distance. He shakes off his doubts, making the excuse that even though she would not approve of his reason for his journey, it will be just this one time and after that her goodness will rescue him from evil. He starts down the dark road into the forest and he meets an older man, who looks somewhat like himself. As they converse, the man makes Goodman Brown feel uneasy about what he is doing.

Goodman Brown travels down the path accompanied by the man and is told that his...
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