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In one of Dean Kootz's novels, a character declares that "perception is reality" and in the case of the character Young Goodman Brown this is certainly true. A proud, sanctimonious character, who fancies himself as the only one capable of journeying with the devil and being able to return with his soul unscathed, Goodman perceives everyone in relation to his self-image. With this sanctimonious self-deception, Goodman Brown's imagination interprets events into his own reality.
Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is a contrast between imagination and reality. Young Goodman Brown, the protagonist is the title character. The antagonist is ostensibly the devil, the spirit resembling his father (paragraph 13), although the antagonist might also be Brown’s destructive sense of guilt—his projection of his own sinfulness upon others and his consequent damnation of them. The central conflict of the story, which seems lost even before it begins, is within Brown himself: an inner war of love and trust versus suspicion and distrust.
The resolution occurs after Brown’s climactic denial in paragraph 68. Brown’s life is changed after this because his faith in others has been shattered, and therefore he alienates everyone around him. The undeniable reality of the story is that Brown’s journey is a dream, or nightmare. In psychological terms, Brown may be schizophrenic, because his view of others is distorted by his nightmarish convictions. It is probably best, however, to stress that his gloom results from religious fanaticism.
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