In "Young Goodman Brown," who is at the gathering in the woods and what are they doing?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

After witnessing Goody Cloyse consort with the Devil, Brown is left alone and he sees the minister and Deacon Gookin approaching on horses. He then sees his wife, Faith. He would see both of these women, the minister, and the Deacon at the gathering in the forest. At the gathering, Brown sees people from the town's council board as well as people he'd seen in church every Sunday. He sees a number of other people, even the most "grave, reputable, and pious people" of the village. In addition to the pious people, Brown sees disreputable people. There at the gathering was a combination of the good and the wicked:

It was strange to see that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints.

The gathering formed to participate in some sort of Black Mass or Devil worship. One of the purposes of the gathering was also to convert Faith and Brown:

And there they stood, the only pair, as it seemed, who were yet hesitating on the verge of wickedness in this dark world.

Herein did the shape of evil dip his hand and prepare to lay the mark of baptism upon their foreheads, that they might be partakers of the mystery of sin, more conscious of the secret guilt of others, both in deed and thought, than they could now be of their own.

This was not just a test of Brown's will to resist evil. It gave him a chance to see that all people are capable of both good and evil. This is something Brown would not be able to accept.

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Young Goodman Brown

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