Young goodman brown
At the beginning of the short story, Goodman Brown is leaving his wife, Faith, because he has a task that must be accomplished in the forest before sunrise. Deeper in the forest, Goodman Brown spies an old man, who is actually the devil in disguise, waiting for him.
The primary setting of “Young Goodman Brown” is the forest. The Puritans believed that the woods were evil because of the presence of Indians and witches, that they believed performed satanic rituals in the forest. Goodman Brown says to himself “There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree” . He also tells his fellow traveler “My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians, since the days of the martyrs. And shall I be the first of the name Brown, that ever took this path and kept—“ (318). This statement helps show the strong conviction of the Puritans.
The other setting of the story is Salem Village. Salem Village is historically most famous for the controversial Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials were sparked by the political motives and imaginations of the townspeople. Many Puritans were sentenced to death for suspicion of witchcraft. The Salem Witch Trials also contributed to the taboo feeling of the forest.
The older man, who has a curious resemblance to Goodman Brown, carries a staff which resembles a black snake. The forest is a very real symbol of the test of strength, courage, and endurance; it took real fortitude to survive in the forest, and a young person entering this forest would not emerge the same. The setting shows the evil perceptions the Puritans had about the forest and gives historical insight to Puritanism through Salem Village.
“Young Goodman Brown” has a theme of Puritan nature as well. People often dwell on life’s uncertainties so much that they loose the ability to enjoy life. Goodman Brown had a curiosity that made him