The forest setting helps support the theme because it adds to the theme of isolation, especially when words associated with evil are used to describe it
The fact that the story is set in the Salem Village builds to the theme about evil and isolation because it adds to the ideas of evil and intolerance that characterized the Salem Village.
For instance, the path through the forest that he had chosen was “a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest… and closed immediately behind [him]” (348).
In the clearing in the woods, there are four trees that are on fire. On page 354, they are described as “four blazing pines, their tops aflame, their stems untouched, like candles at an evening meeting.” This structure builds to the setting within the clearing, making it seem more like hell. The simile involving the pines and the candles at an evening meeting are key in supporting Hawthorne’s
Traditionally, forests are used to symbolize evil and danger. They are dark places where all manner of creatures lurk waiting to attack the unsuspecting, and even Goodman presents this idea when he says to himself as he is walking along, "There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree... What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!" (554) Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, it is in this forest that Goodman Brown meets the man who turns out to be the Devil. Their walk into the forest symbolizes Goodman's increasing involvement with evil, and as he gets deeper into the forest, so does it get darker.
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