In "Young Goodman Brown," how did Young Goodman Brown's outlook on life influence his actions?

Expert Answers
accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is an interesting question. I am not sure that we are given much information about Goodman Brown's outlook on life but it is clear that his action in insisting on going into the woods is part of some last rebellion against good and dalliance with evil before he settles down to become a righteous and spiritual man. Note how as he starts off on his journey he reflects on what a terrible man he is to ignore his wife's plea for him to stay:

"Poor little Faith!" thought he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought as she spoke there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But no, no; 't would kill her to think it. Well, she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven."

Note how allegorically, Faith, Goodman Brown's wife, is exactly that, and so after this one last night of evil, Goodman Brown resolves to "cling to her skirts" and by so doing "follow her to heaven."

Thus perhaps we can infer that Goodman Brown's outlook on life is that he is entitled to one last fling with the Devil before settling down to become a good Puritan and focusing on becoming holy. It is this belief that he is entitled to one last night of evil that leads him into the woods and changes him utterly forever.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Young Goodman Brown's outlook in life is not precisely clear in the story. We know that he is, as the title intends, a good man who is presumably living in a good, healthy environment with a wife that he apparently loves.

His outlook in life could be argued to be a very comfortable one where he is very sure that he can do no wrong, after all, he has never apparently done any wrong before.

For this reason, his actions are completely naive and he is easily trapped in the "forest" of sin and evil. If perhaps he had lived a life of balance he would have not fallen prey so easily to everything he does not believe in.

Read the study guide:
Young Goodman Brown

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question