In "Young Goodman Brown," what social institutions do Deacon Gookin, Goody Cloyse, and the minister represent?

Brown's wife represents the evil of Satan. She is consumed by the Devil, which causes her to abandon her husband and join him in the forest.

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On Goodman Brown's journey to the Black Mass in the forest, he witnesses a conversation between the Devil and Goody Cloyse, who taught him his catechism in youth and is a revered spiritual leader in his Puritan community. In addition to witnessing Goody Cloyse have a conversation with the Devil,...

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On Goodman Brown's journey to the Black Mass in the forest, he witnesses a conversation between the Devil and Goody Cloyse, who taught him his catechism in youth and is a revered spiritual leader in his Puritan community. In addition to witnessing Goody Cloyse have a conversation with the Devil, Brown also overhears a discussion between Deacon Gookin and the minister regarding the unholy ceremony as they travel deep into the forest.

During the Black Mass, all three characters participate and worship the Devil as Goodman Brown and his wife take part in the unholy communion. Hawthorne offers a sharp critique of Puritan religion and culture by depicting presumably righteous spiritual leaders participating in the Black Mass.

Collectively, Deacon Gookin, Goody Cloyse, and the minister symbolically represent the Christian church, which is the foundation and cornerstone of Puritan society. They represent a standard of piety and godliness in Brown's community and are highly respected individuals. However, Hawthorne portrays them as deeply flawed, wicked individuals, who hide their sins behind their pure reputations and holy personalities.

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The three individuals mentioned in the question represent the church. The minister is somewhat obvious. In many ways, he is the voice of a church, because he is the person delivering spiritual messages and teachings to the people in attendance. Deacon Gookin has a similar church leadership role as a church deacon. Deacons are elected members of a church to be servant-leaders. They are often in charge of the church's finances, and they are also the church members tasked with intentionally finding ways to help people within the church. Goody Cloyse might not be an elected member of the church council; however, her knowledge of the faith and the denomination are deep enough for her to be entrusted with teaching young people their catechism. The catechism is a summary of the principles of the Christian religion. It is formatted in a question and answer style.

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When the devil points out Goody Cloyse on the path, young Goodman Brown notes that she is the elderly woman of unimpeachable reputation in town who taught him his catechism when he was young; in fact, she is still, along with the minister and Deacon Gookin, a spiritual advisor for Brown.  These three people, jointly, represent the church.  They are all thought to be beyond moral reproach, and they are responsible for helping to lead the community down a righteous path.  It is very ironic, then, that Brown spots Goody Cloyse, and later hears the deacon and minister, on the path because he would never have expected them to be on their way to the witches' Sabbath.  They are the community's best examples of morality, and so if even they are in league with the devil, it seems that there can be little hope, if any, for anyone else to maintain innocence.

Their guilt also seems like an indictment of Puritan society by Hawthorne.  If even the most moral folks in this community are corrupt, then that says nothing positive about Puritans: instead, they seem hypocritical and false.

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