In "Young Goodman Brown," how are members of Goodman Brown’s community such as Goody Cloyse, Deacon Gookin, and the minister used to undermine his heavenly faith? In other words, why does the “evil” demonstrated in Brown’s fellow community members create such a powerful conflict for him and serve as such as significant plot complication?

The minister’s status as a pillar of the community, coupled with his apparent holiness, distorts Brown’s view of reality. The minister is a hypocrite and leads Brown to assume that his neighbors know nothing of sin. Once Brown returns from the forest, he is unable to tolerate the hypocrisy around him and must take refuge in isolation.

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Goodman Brown is shocked to learn not only about the relationships between these individuals and the devil, but also how well-established these relationships seem to be. The Devil greets Goody Cloyse, for example, as an "'old friend,'" and she even refers to him as "'your worship,'" a term of respect...

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Goodman Brown is shocked to learn not only about the relationships between these individuals and the devil, but also how well-established these relationships seem to be. The Devil greets Goody Cloyse, for example, as an "'old friend,'" and she even refers to him as "'your worship,'" a term of respect and reverence. Brown is surprised because, as he tells the Devil—who he calls "Friend"—"I thought she was going to Heaven!" He is shocked to learn that this seemingly pious pillar of the community, someone who is entrusted to teach the children their religious lessons, is actually a sinner. Brown rebuffs the Devil, then sits down to rest and consider his choices:

[He] applaud[ed] himself greatly . . . thinking with how clear a conscience he should meet the minister, in his morning-walk, nor shrink from the eye of good old Deacon Gookin.

Brown respects these men, and he wants them to respect him as well. He assumes, because of their religious roles within the community, that they are not sinners and that they do not traffic with the Devil, so he is stunned to hear them in the woods on their way to the witch meeting. Brown, however, is quite willing to engage in one last night of sin prior to seeing and hearing these seemingly saintlike people, but when he learns of their sinfulness, he judges them for their sins despite the fact that he has his own.

These experiences make Brown distrustful of everyone once he does return to town. He avoids church services and shrinks away from his wife. The knowledge of others' sinfulness—despite his own—renders him unable to respect or trust anyone else ever again, and he becomes a miserable human being. When he dies, the narrator says, "They carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom."

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The reason why the evil of these characters has such a profound impact on Young Goodman Brown is because he takes them to be such heroes of the Christian faith, people who have inspired and helped him on his own spiritual path. It is therefore unthinkable for him to imagine them as being in league with the devil and having an evil side. In other words, Goodman Brown finds it impossible to accept that they have evil within themselves just as he does within himself. Note, for example, the way that he responds to seeing Goody Cloyse talk familiarly with the devil:

"That old woman taught me my catechism," said the young man; and there was a world of meaning in this simple comment.

The "world of meaning" in this phrase, that states what an important person Goody Cloyse was in Goodman Brown's own spiritual life, indicates the powerful conflict that is produced within him. For, if such stalwart giants of the Christian faith are actually in reality in league with the devil and have evil within them, then what does this say about himself and about what it means to be human? This is the truth that Goodman Brown confronts on his journey during this story that has such a massive impact on him.

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