What role does religion play in Brown's life before the "dream," during the "dream," and after he "wakes"?

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Goodman Brown is portrayed as a devout, morally upright Christian prior to participating in the Black Mass, which takes place in the depths of the forest. Before embarking on his journey, Goodman Brown instructs his wife, Faith, to say her prayers and is reluctant to continue his journey into the woods. Goodman even mentions that he hails from a long line of honest, good men and martyrs. When Goodman meets the devil in the forest, he tells him that his family members are "people of prayer" and "abide by no such wickedness." Goodman also worries about interacting with the deacon after his dark errand in the forest and believes that his voice will tremble during the Sunday sermons. Despite stopping several times and rethinking his errand, Goodman cannot resist temptation: he continues on his journey and participates in the Black Mass along with the prominent Christian leaders of his community.

Following his "dream," Goodman Brown experiences a dramatic transformation and develops into a distrustful, suspicious man who views the Christian leaders with contempt and fear. Goodman's once reverent perception of the town's religious leaders is ruined, and he is no longer hopeful. Goodman Brown ends up losing his faith and dies a gloomy, cynical man.

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Cynicism and disillusionment concerning the human condition are very much at the center of "Young Goodman Brown," and religion lies at the center of this theme, because it is his trust in the piety and faithfulness of others that has been worn away at the end of the story.

We should note, at the beginning of the story, Brown himself is faced with temptation. This doesn't make him a poor Christian, but it seems very likely he was far from a Saint. (Indeed, he himself seems to trust his wife's piety more than his own, given the way he intends to "cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven.") As we see, religion plays a major role in his life. At the same time, he trusts in the piety of the faithful, or rather (if the vision is to be believed), in those who present themselves as faithful.

In the forest, his faith in others is worn down, as he encounters respected members of Salem's community with reputations of piety in association with the Devil. This vision escalates, culminating in the scene of the sabbath (and the role his wife plays within it). He emerges from this experience deeply disillusioned. He has become grim, with his faith permanently shattered.

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Prior to the dream, it is clear that Goodman Brown is a devout, pious Christian. When he leaves his wife, he instructs her to say her prayers. When he first meets the traveler-companion in the woods, Brown also says that he and his family come from a long line of devoted martyrs. Goodman Brown repeatedly resists the old man’s requests to go deeper into the woods, expressing disgust at the sight of the pious Goody Cloyse and then Deacon Gookin and the minister.

During the dream, Brown clings to his religion for comfort and strength. He cries that he will “stand firm against the devil” before running deeper into the forest to find Faith, whom he believes has been taken against her will. While he joins hands with her at the unholy meeting, Goodman Brown cries out to Faith, instructing her to “Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!” This shows that Goodman Brown believes that God will save him if he remains steadfast.

After the dream, however, when Goodman Brown returns to Salem, his attitude toward religion is different. He is now skeptical and untrusting of the legitimacy of his religion since so many devil worshippers hold prominent positions within the church. The ending of the story describes Brown as a man who lost faith because of his inability to trust the sincerity of his religion’s believers. This also suggests that Brown no longer trusts God either, since He would allow such blasphemy to continue.

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