Why is Faith afraid at the beginning of Young Goodman Brown?I know she doesn't want him to leave because they have only been married for a short while, but does she really know that he will see her...

Why is Faith afraid at the beginning of Young Goodman Brown?

I know she doesn't want him to leave because they have only been married for a short while, but does she really know that he will see her later?

Expert Answers info

Stephen Holliday eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2011

write849 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Business

Young Goodman Brown's wife, Faith, has two very good reasons to fear her husband's absence during the night.

The couple are, as far as we know, good Puritans, even though Goodman Brown is about to take a walk on the wild side and explore the dark side of the Puritan belief system. One of the tenets of Puritanism is that Satan can and does appear in physical form in order to tempt the righteous into sin. After all, the 1692 witch hysteria in Salem, Massachusetts, which culminated in the execution of nineteen women and one man in 1693, was based largely on what is called "spectral evidence"—that is, the theory spirits of living people who have become witches can cause harm to other villagers and livestock while their physical bodies go about their normal life. More importantly, Puritans also believe that Satan can attack them in dreams while they are sleeping, because their religious defenses are weakened during sleep.

When Faith implores Goodman Brown to postpone his walk in the forest until daylight, she is responding to two fears. First, as any villager in seventeenth-century Massachusetts would know, the forest is a very dangerous place, especially at night, because of Indians. Many villages, even through the eighteenth century, were palisaded against potential Indian attacks, and attacks on Puritan settlements occurred on a regular basis. Faith's plea is partially based on her fear that Goodman Brown will become a victim of violence. Second, she understands her own jeopardy if left alone:

pr'ythee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 554 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

cmcqueeney eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2005

write381 answers

starTop subject is Literature

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial