How do you characterize the behavior of Faith and the other townspeople after Brown's return to the village in "Young Goodman Brown"?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The people of the village are welcoming to Goodman, but he shrinks away from them and his wife, Faith, even though she greets him lovingly.

By all accounts, Goodman Brown was a perfectly normal young man before his fateful trip into the woods that night.  He is well-liked by the townspeople.  They greet him, when he arrives, in a normal way and his wife does in an open and affectionate way.

Brown seems to have had some indication, like a premonition, that something as up—because he was in quite a hurry and left despite his wife’s desperate pleas that he not go.

The good old minister was taking a walk along the graveyard to get an appetite for breakfast and meditate his sermon, and bestowed a blessing, as he passed, on Goodman Brown.

To the townspeople, Goodman has not changed.  They are not aware of what has happened to him in the woods.  He had an experience with the devil where he had a vision of the townspeople where they worshipped the devil where he, Goodman Brown, also saw himself as making a deal with the devil.  From that time on Goodman never looked at anyone the same.  He was tainted.  His view of humanity was tainted.  He saw the townspeople as in league with the devil, but they of course did not see themselves that way because they were not there.  It was Goodman Brown’s vision.

At the word, Goodman Brown stepped forth from the shadow of the trees and approached the congregation, with whom he felt a loathful brotherhood by the sympathy of all that was wicked in his heart.

So from this point on, Goodman’s view of his fellow men is not going to be the same.  Even his view of his wife is going to be different, because in the vision he called out to her to renounce evil, but he did not see if she did or not.  Because of that, he cannot be sure if she is a good person, and he has to be suspicious of her as well as the rest.

Faith, you’ll notice, wants to greet him lovingly and openly, as most young wives would do after a husband had been away for the night, especially since she was worried about him.

[He] spied the head of Faith, with the pink ribbons, gazing anxiously forth, and bursting into such joy at sight of him that she skipped along the street and almost kissed her husband before the whole village.

Obviously Faith is very happy to see him, since the night before she did not want him to go.  She is young, and naïve, and new to marriage.  She loves her husband and cares about him, and she had a premonition of danger that she passed on to him.  Therefore she openly greets him.  She missed him.  However, he spurns her.  We are given by the description that follows to believe that he spurns her, and the townspeople, ever after. He goes from being a cared-about and appreciated young man of good reputation who is also a good husband to a gloomy, muttering, lonely man.

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Young Goodman Brown

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