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As his name suggests, at the beginning of the story Young Goodman Brown is a rather average young man who seems to be intrigued by the dark side of life. As he sets off on his journey towards the dark forest, his words suggest that he is rather naive in his attitude towards evil. He tells his wife, “Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee.” Ironically, Brown's faith in simple prayers is misguided and by the end of the story, he has experienced such a horrible event that he is permanently changed into "A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man..." Whether his experience in the forest actually occurred or whether it was just a bad dream, really doesn't matter. The point of the story is that Brown was marred by the experience so badly that even "his dying hour was gloom."
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