In "Young Goodman Brown," was Brown's experience in the forest a dream or a reality?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hawthorne's tales inhabit a middle ground between illusion and reality. The reader often cannot be sure if the action is presented as something actually occurring, if it is a dream or hallucinatory experience, or if it is somehow all of the above. This ambiguity is a central theme of Romantic (especially Dark Romantic) literature, and it is an extension of the nineteenth-century view of man as a being who essentially creates a reality of his own through the power of his mind. As in the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, one of Hawthorne's contemporaries, there is no simple answer to the question of dream vs. reality in "Young Goodman Brown."

Hawthorne's personal religious beliefs are open to interpretation, but by his time, even most devout Christians probably no longer believed that Satan or the Devil was an actual being who took human form and visited people on earth. The story of Goodman Brown meeting the mysterious stranger in the woods is a parable , a metaphorical representation of the...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 721 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team