In "Young Goodman Brown," what characters act in ways against the Puritan ideals?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," if the perception of the witch-meeting is what Goodman Brown remembers, then all the characters have acted in way against Puritan ideals of behavior that is exemplary.  The problem is, however, whether Goodman Brown has fallen asleep in the forest and merely dreamed all that has transpired, or whether it has all actually occurred.  This ambiguity is never fully resolved in Hawthorne' story.  For, despite what has occurred, Goodman Brown has lost his faith and become hereafter

a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man...from the night of that fearful dream.

If, then, what occured has been real, all the characters in the narrative have strayed from the ideals of Puritanism.

  1. The traveler, of course, is the devil
  2. Goody Cloyse, who rides past Goodman, is a witch herself, albeit Goodman's catechism teacher.
  3. Deacon Gookin is a black mass enthusiast, saying he would rather attend the witch-meeting than an ordination of a minister.
  4. The minister of the black mass certainly violates the precepts of Puritanism.

Regarding Faith's disobedience there is ambiguity, however, as is among the proselytes and is about to have the satanic mark of baptism laid upon her forehead when Goodman urges her to look to heaven, but "[W]hether Faith obeyed he knew not."

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Young Goodman Brown

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