What actually happens at the end of "Young Goodman Brown"?

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The ending of Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," as your question implies, intrigues almost every reader because Hawthorne leaves it to the reader to decide whether Brown meets Satan in the forest and attends a satanic ceremony (with his wife, Faith) or has a dream vision in which the events occur. In one sense, a definitive answer doesn't really matter: whether or not Brown has an actual experience with Satan, Brown believes he has had such an experience, and believing makes the experience real, at least as far as Brown is concerned. But in order to find an answer that suits our own sensibilities, which are far removed from those of the Puritans in the seventeenth century, we need to examine briefly Brown's Puritan belief system.

Goodman Brown, assuming he is a typical Puritan, believes that, among other things, Satan can be a real presence in his life—that is, Satan is not just a spiritual being but can manifest himself as a living person, sometimes in the form of someone...

(The entire section contains 5 answers and 1128 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on January 2, 2020