The central character, Goodman Brown, is presented initially as a good person devoted to his wife and well schooled in both religious and civic values. From the first paragraphs, however, he seems ill at ease, determined to enter on his mysterious nighttime journey. The reason for this nocturnal adventure is not clear at first, but Brown is steadfast in his purpose. That quality soon evaporates as he meets his guide and travels to the meeting place where he witnesses a diabolical ceremony which is a blasphemy of the Protestant communion. Easily swayed by suggestion and innuendo, by the time Brown arrives at the circle where the apparitions of his townspeople are engaged in devil worship, he is ready to believe that he is the only person whose faith has not been undermined. As a result, his good nature is immediately transformed; for the rest of his days he lives in despair, believing the outward goodness of his neighbors, including his wife, is merely a sham, covering their evil nature.
As one might expect in a short story, few other characters are well developed. Rather, Hawthorne briefly sketches in the types who represent the various occupations common to New England towns. Even Brown's wife Faith is little more than a stereotype of the faithful, loving spouse. What is interesting, however, is that Hawthorne uses language throughout the story to create doubt about the reality of the figures Brown meets in the forest. Rather, he suggests they are...
(The entire section is 367 words.)