How do the events of the Salem Trails of 1692 and King Philip's War relate to "Young Goodman Brown"?

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This short story is set in Salem Village, in Massachusetts, as we learn in the very first line. It takes place sometime after King Philip's War, which lasted from 1675 to 1678. The strange man Goodman Brown meets in the forest, a man who turns out to be the devil in the shape of Brown's own grandfather, says that he took Brown's father "a pitch-pine knot, kindled at [his] own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village" during King Philip's War. This helps us to situate the story in the late-seventeenth century.

Given that Goodman Brown is a generation younger than his father, it stands to reason that he will be alive for the Salem Witch Trials. Many of the names Hawthorne uses for minor characters are, in fact, based on real names of Puritans alive during this era. Deacon Gookin is likely named after Daniel Gookin, a settler who lived from 1612 to 1687. Goody Cloyse also seems to be based on the woman, Sarah Cloyse, who was actually accused of witchcraft in real life.

In this way, Hawthorne's story seems to presage and set the stage for the Salem witch hysteria, as everyone in Salem is revealed to be a hypocrite: people who purport to be good and moral creatures but who are really willing and enthusiastic sinners. This helps to explain how the Salem Witch Trials might have been initiated.

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