What is the symbolic meaning of Young Goodman Brown's journey?

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Young Goodman Brown's journey can be read as an allegory of the Christian's journey toward eventual salvation or damnation. This is one explanation of why his name is such a common one—Brown—as well as accounts for the double meaning of Goodman: this is the Puritan synonym for "Mister" but...

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Young Goodman Brown's journey can be read as an allegory of the Christian's journey toward eventual salvation or damnation. This is one explanation of why his name is such a common one—Brown—as well as accounts for the double meaning of Goodman: this is the Puritan synonym for "Mister" but also refers to Brown's intention to be a good man

He begins his journey with Faith (his wife, but also a literal representation of a Christian's faith), but he leaves Faith/faith behind him, assuming that she/it will be there whenever he returns. Brown travels into the woods, a dark place outside of the rules of the town, where he is tempted again and again to join with the devil (the older man he meets who possesses the serpent staff—the serpent being a biblical symbol of Satan from Eden). Just like all Christians, Brown is tempted and has an opportunity to turn away from the devil, but he follows him deeper and deeper into the woods, failing to reject temptation over and over again. The devil tries to convince Brown to join him by showing him all the other people from the town who are his friends and explaining how well he has known all of Brown's family and forebears. This touches on a popular Hawthorne theme: that we are all sinners.

When Brown finally arrives at the Witches' Sabbath and understands what it is, he calls out to his "'Faith'" and implores her to "'Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!'" However, he doesn't know whether she does this or not. Symbolically, it is unclear whether or not Brown can rely on his faith now that he's been willing to abandon it thus far, just as he left his wife, Faith, at home. He ends up dying miserably, never able to trust anyone again, including his wife. He has lost his faith—whether he has seen the true nature of humankind or only what the devil wanted him to see is irrelevant—and he has thus become truly alienated from God.

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