Does Young Goodman Brown dream the Black Mass or actually see it? How do you know? Does it make a difference in your interpretation of the story?

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Whether Young Goodman Brown dreamed the night in the forest is a question the reader must decide for himself. To me, it doesn't matter whether it's a dream or not because Young Goodman Brown believes in his heart and soul that it did happen, and this changes the rest of his life. Brown makes the decision to give up on humankind and believe his wife and friends are evil, and he spends the remainder of his life alone, feeling that evil has won out over good. The Puritans believed that all people are evil because of the "original sin" committed by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is only through belief in God and living a pure life that man can overcome evil. Brown's night in the forest, whether a dream or reality, takes away his belief in humanity. The Black Mass in the forest forces Brown to see himself as just one evil part of a corrupt race of sinners.