In Nathaniel Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown, Goodman Brown is symbolic of "everyman" or humankind in several ways.
First, Brown believes that "what you see is what you get." He never thinks to search beneath the surface of things, and takes everyone at face value. When he finds that people in his community, as well as his own ancestors, have been "in league with the devil," he is devastated. (It may not been that they served the devil at all, but that they have "sinned" in general.)
Believing the best of everyone to begin with is not Brown's mistake, but it is found in his belief that others' mistakes make them evil. Goodman Brown lacks faith in his fellowman. His short-sightedness blinds him to the good that there is in the people around him.
The reader does not know if what Brown saw in the woods was a dream or not—once again, however, he believes what he sees without question. People have disappointed him because they are not perfect, and unlike the precepts of his faith, he can find no way to...
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