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...
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 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.