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Young Goodman Brown
By Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
A Study Guide
Cummings Guides Home..|..Contact This Site
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Type of Work, Publication
Characters
Setting
Plot Summary
Symbolism
Themes
Dream vs Reality
Brown as a Thrill-Seeker
Climax, Conclusion
Allusions, Vocabulary
Puritanism
Witch Trials
Figures of Speech
Questions, Essay Topics
Biography
Complete Text
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By Michael J. Cummings... 2003
Revised in 2010
Type of Work
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.......Young Goodman Brown is a short story, one of the greatest in American literature. One may read it as an allegory centering on the temptation everyone faces and on the human tendency to prejudge others on insufficient evidence. The story was published in 1835.

Publication

.......Young Goodman Brown was published in 1835 in New England, a magazine, and in 1846 in Mosses From an Old Manse, a collection of Hawthorne's stories.

Setting

.......The action takes place in the second half of the seventeenth century in Salem, a town northeast of Boston in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Puritan settlers established Salem in 1626 under the name of Naumkeag. Several years later, the town changed its name to Salem, apparently after the Hebrew word shalom, meaning peace. (Jerusalem derives the last two syllables of its name from the same Hebrew word. In full, Jerusalem means city of peace.) 
.......Salem was a theocracy in which the Christian moral law, as interpreted by the Puritan settlers of the town, was supreme. “Young Goodman Brown” takes place around the time of the Salem witch trials, held in the spring and autumn of 1692. During these infamous trials, twenty innocent women and men were found guilty of witchcraft and executed. 

Characters
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Goodman Brown: Recently married Puritan who lives in Salem in the 1600's. He believes in the goodness of the townspeople until he sees many of them attending a witches’ sabbath in the forest. Goodman is a title equivalent to Mister.
Faith: Goodman Brown’s wife.
The Devil Figure: Mysterious man who meets Goodman Brown in the forest and accompanies him part way to the witches’ sabbath, where Brown is to be inducted into an evil brotherhood.
Minister: Church leader who leads Goodman Brown to the unhallowed baptismal altar in the forest.
Deacon Gookin: Salem Churchman who attends the witches' sabbath.
Goody Cloyse: Teacher of cathechism who attends the witches' sabbath.
Martha Carrier: Salem resident, described as a "rampant hag," who attends the witches' sabbath. The devil had been promised her that she would be the queen of hell. With Goody Cloyse, she leads Faith to the unhallowed baptismal altar.
Powwows: Indian medicine men who attend the witches' sabbath.
Various Townspeople

Plot Summary
By Michael J. Cummings... 2003

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.......It is dusk in the village of Salem, Massachusetts, a community of god-fearing Puritans. At the threshold of the front door of his house, a young man named Goodman Brown kisses his wife, Faith, goodbye and embarks on a journey into the forest. He is not to return until the next morning. What activity would lure him away from his pretty wife, whom he married three months before, and into the dark and menacing uncertainty of the woods? It is a witches’ sabbath, a meeting at which he and others from Salem and surrounding communities are to be inducted into an evil brotherhood. 
.......It may be simple curiosity that motivates Brown; after all, would it not be interesting to see witches performing their rituals before a blazing fire? On the other hand, it could be the challenge of braving the forest and confronting the temptation posed by evil forces. Such would be a colonial American version of a modern extreme sport or adventure. Then, too, Goodman Brown may truly wish to join the evil brotherhood.
.......In the forest, he meets a mysterious man with a staff resembling a snake, and together they travel on. The man appears to be a devil figure. From time to time, Brown expresses a desire to turn back, but his feet continue to carry him forward. Along the way, upright citizens–even members of the clergy—pass by on their way to the meeting while Brown hides behind trees and watches. At the site of the meeting, he suffers a terrible shock when he discovers that his wife—beautiful, innocent Faith—is also there. When a “Shape of Evil” prepares to baptize the newcomers into “the mystery of sin,” Goodman Brown tells his wife: “Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One.”
.......But as soon as those words pass his lips, he finds himself alone in the forest with only the sound of the wind for company. The next day, after he returns to Salem, life goes on as usual, and Brown wonders whether he had “fallen asleep, and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting.”
.......Whatever the case, Goodman Brown is never the same again; he becomes “a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man.” After he dies many years later, he is followed to his grave by Faith, by his children, by his grandchildren, and by neighbors, but “they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom.”
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Symbolism

The Forest as Eden

.......Goodman Brown appears to represent human beings confronted with temptation–that is, he wishes to enter the dark forest of sin, so to speak, to satisfy his curiosity about the happenings there and perhaps even to take part in them. The man who meets Brown in the forest appears to represent the devil; his staff is a symbol of the devil as a serpent. Thus, we have Adam (Brown, curious to learn forbidden knowledge) facing the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It was, of course, a tree—the Tree of Knowledge—that enticed Adam. Goodman Brown is enticed by an entire forest. Like Adam, he suffers a great fall from innocence. 
.......Faith appears to represent Brown’s religious faith and his faith in others; her pink ribbons stand for innocence. But when she also appears at the witches' sabbath—apparently, like Eve, desiring forbidden knowledge—she too loses her innocence. At the last moment before his and his wife's baptism into the evil society gathered in the forest, Brown urges his wife: "Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One." He then finds himself alone in the forest, wondering whether he has awakened from a dream or really did attend the witches' sabbath. But the damage is done, and he becomes "a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man." 

Primordial Symbols

.......Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) theorized that all humans share certain inborn impulses and concepts residing in the mind at the unconscious level. For example, all humans react to sunlight in the same way, perceiving it as a symbol of  joy, happiness, glory, optimism, truth, a new beginning, or God. Likewise, humans associate dark forests (like the one in "Young Goodman Brown") with danger, obscurity, confusion, and the unknown or with evil, sin, and death. Jung termed external stimuli (such as dark forests) primordial symbols—primordial meaning existing from the beginning of time
.......Examples of other primordial symbols you may encounter in your study of literature include the following: a river (the passage of time), overcast sky (gloom, depression, despair), lamb (innocence, vulnerability), violent storm (wrath, inconsolable grief), flowers (delicacy, perishability, beauty), mountain (obstacle, challenge), eagle (majesty, freedom) the color white (purity, innocence), the color red (anger, passion, war, blood), the color green (new life, hope), water (birth or rebirth), autumn (old age), winter (death).

Faith

.......Goodman Brown's wife, Faith, symbolizes Brown's spiritual faith. When he sees her in the forest at the witches' sabbath, he realizes he is in danger of losing not only his wife but also his spiritual faith. 
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Themes

Theme 1 How the Puritans’ strict moral code and overemphasis on the sinfulness of humankind foster undue suspicion and distrust. Goodman Brown’s experience in the forest—whether dream or reality—causes him to lose his faith in others and die an unhappy man. Note the last words of the story: “They carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom.” 
Theme 2 The realization that evil can infect people who seem upright. Goodman Brown discovers that even highly respected people in Salem fall victim to the forces of darkness. Today–when corporate executives cheat stockholders, politicians lie to win elections, and members of the clergy defraud their congregations–this theme still resonates. 
Theme 3 One man’s virtue is another man’s sin, and vice versa. “There is no good on earth,” Goodman Brown observes, “and sin is but a name.” In other words, whether an action is good or evil appears to depend on who is viewing the action. The zealotry of a Puritan punishing a wrongdoer—like Goodman Brown’s grandfather lashing “a Quaker woman so smartly through the streets”—might be praised as a just act by another Puritan but condemned as an inhumane act by non-Puritans. These opposing views of the same action seem to confuse Brown; he is like a modern man who is told that “everything goes” or that one moral position is as valid as another, opposing one. There are, of course, absolute moral values which should prevail for everyone, regardless of their religion or lack of it. For example, murder is always wrong; child abuse is always wrong. However, the devil figure succeeds in confounding Brown on what is truly right and what is truly wrong. 

Climax and Conclusion

.......The climax of the story occurs when Goodman Brown, standing before the altar with Faith to receive the mark of baptism from the devil, hesitates at the last minute and urges his wife to "look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one." The conclusion, or denouement, of the story then begins when he suddenly finds himself alone in the forest, as if he has just awakened from a dream. What he experienced in the forest—whether dream or reality—changes his life. He is now suspicious of everyone, just as the Puritans of real-life Salem were when they participated in a witch hunt that resulted in the execution of 

Dream vs Reality

.......Hawthorne leaves open to question whether Goodman Brown’s experience is real or imagined, as in a dream. Keep in mind that normal, mentally stable people—like you or those around you—sometimes accept delusions, fantasies, or fabrications as real events. Keep in mind, too, that they sometimes see evil in a person who has done no evil. 

Brown as Thrill-Seeker

.......It is reasonable to interpret “Young Goodman Brown” in ways other than those already mentioned. For example, Brown could represent an archetypical Ulysses or Faust figure whose curiosity prods him to seek knowledge or, like modern adventurers and thrill-seekers, undergo “extreme” challenges. It is also reasonable to interpret the short story as a tale of rebellion against established beliefs. Like young people today—who, refusing to be cast in the philosophical or theological mold of their parents or friends—explore various ideologies and dabble in nihilism. Brown may have wished to venture into the forbidden zone, into terra incognita, to discover the world and its ideas for himself. 

Allusions, Historical References, and Vocabulary

anathema  (paragraph 32): thing or person deemed to be damned or cursed.
cinque-foil (paragraph 32): Cinquefoil, a flowering plant of the rose family that has white, red, or yellow petals.
Egyptian Magi (paragraph 36): See staff.
e'en go thy ways (paragraph 25): Just (righteous) be thy ways.
Goodman: Husband or master of a household.
Goody: (1) Housewife, especially an elderly one, of a lower class; (2) any lower-class woman; (3) housewife or mistress of a household.
King William (paragraph 13): William III, king of England from 1689 to 1702.
King Philip (paragraph 18): Nickname of the Wampanoag Indian chief Metacom (or Metacomet). Maltreatment of Indians by whites provoked him into waging what came to be known as King Philip's War against New Englanders in 1675-1676. His defiance instilled fear in the white inhabitants of New England. 
lecture-day (paragraph 21): Weekday on which a sermon was given.
proselyte (paragraph 60): person who converted from one belief or religion to another.
staff (paragraph 36): The narrator says, "So saying, he threw it [the staff] down at her feet, where, perhaps, it assumed life, being one of the rods which its owner had formerly lent to the Egyptian magi." This passage alludes to verses 8-12 in Chapter 7 of the Bible's Book of Exodus. According to these verses, God directs Moses to tell Aaron, his brother, to cast down his staff before the throne of the pharaoh of Egypt. When he does so, it transforms itself into a serpent. The pharaoh's magicians (magi) then cast down their staffs, which in like manner turned into serpents. However, Aaron's staff consumes the staffs of the magicians.
wolf's-bane (paragraph 32): Wolfsbane, a poisonous plant.
wot'st: (paragraph 15): Know.
zenith: The point of the celestial sphere (what appears to be the surface of the sky or heavens) that is directly above an observer's head.
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Figures of Speech

.......Following are examples of figures of speech in the story.

Alliteration
Repetition of a consonant sound

Paragraph 13: It was now deep dusk in the forest, and deepest in that part of it where these two were journeying. 
Paragraph 41: thinking with how clear a conscience he should meet the minister
Paragraph 47: this black mass of cloud was sweeping swiftly northward
Paragraph 49: the unhappy husband held his breath for a response
Anaphora
Repetition of a word, phrase, or clause in successive groups of words
Paragraph 72: When the minister spoke from the pulpit, with power and fervid eloquence, and with his hand on the open Bible, of the sacred truths of our religion, and of saint-like lives and triumphant deaths, and of future bliss or misery unutterable, then did Goodman Brown turn pale, dreading lest the roof should thunder down upon the gray blasphemer and his hearers.
Paragraph 72: A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man, did he become, from the night of that fearful dream. 
Metaphor
Comparison a thing to an unlike thing without using like, as, or than
Paragraph 8: He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through. . . . 
Comparison of the trees and the path to living things that move.
Paragraph 31:  "Then Goody Cloyse knows her old friend?" observed the traveller, confronting her, and leaning on his writhing stick.
Onomatopoeia
Using a Word to Imitate a Sound
Paragraph 51: the creaking of the trees, the howling of wild beasts
Simile
Comparison a thing to an unlike thing without using like, as, or than
Paragraph 51: sometimes the wind tolled like a distant church-bell
Comparison of the sound of the wind to the sound of a church bell
Paragraph 54: four blazing pines, their tops aflame, their stems untouched, like candles at an evening meeting.
Comparison of the burning pine trees to burning candles
Paragraph 53: shouting forth such laughter, as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him
Comparison of the sounds of the forest to the laughter of demons
Puritanism and the Witch Trials

.......Puritanism began in England in the late Sixteenth Century when Protestant reformers attempted to purge the Church of England (or Anglican Church) of the elaborate ceremonies, rituals, and hierarchical structure it retained from the Roman Catholic Church after King Henry VIII established Anglicanism by acts of Parliament between 1529 and 1536. The Act of Supremacy, approved in 1534, officially established the Church of England as an independent Protestant entity separate from the Roman Catholic Church. However, the Church of England retained Catholic rituals such as the mass and prelates such as bishops. For the Puritans, the pure word of the Bible, presented in part through inspired preaching, took precedence over rituals while direct revelation from the Holy Spirit superseded reason. After Queen Elizabeth I died in 1603, the Puritans petitioned the new monarch, King James I, to adopt their reforms. In January 1604 at a special conference at Hampton Court Palace near London, the king rejected most of the proposed Puritan reforms but he did grant a Puritan request for a new translation of the Bible, which resulted in publication of the King James Version in 1611. 
Many disenchanted puritans left the country. Those who remained behind joined with members of Parliament opposed to the crown's economic policies. Together they defeated the king's forces in the English Civil War. With the king out of the way, the Puritans became a dominant faction in the new Commonwealth government headed by Oliver Cromwell. However, after Cromwell's death in 1558, a movement to restore the monarchy began, and King Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660. Under the Clarendon Code, approved in 1662, the Church of England expelled all Puritan ministers who refused to accept church tenets. Many Puritans then emigrated to America and established their brand of religion in Massachusetts and other colonies. 
.......Puritan ministers were generally well educated, and Puritan congregations promoted ideals that helped lay the foundation for American democracy. 
.......However, because of their strict moral code, the Puritans were ever on the lookout for satanic influence and, unfortunately, sometimes saw evil where none existed. In Salem, Massachusetts in 1692, more than 150 people were accused of witchcraft and jailed. Twenty of them were executed. Nineteen were hanged and one was pressed to death. In a pressing, the executioners secured the condemned person, facing upward, on a bed of nails. Then they loaded weights onto his or her body. American dramatist Arthur Miller wrote a play, The Crucible, about these trials. Belief in evil forces such as witches, warlocks, and diabolical spirits was widespread in America and Europe during and before the 17th Century.
.......Although "Young Goodman Brown" is a fictional tale, it is based on the atmosphere prevailing in Salem, Mass., during the time of the witch trials. .

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Study Questions and Essay Topics

1..Discuss situations and circumstances that cause people in today’s society to enter a “dark forest,” as Goodman Brown did.
2..Does Goodman Brown really attend a witches' sabbath or does he dream about it?
3..Research the life of Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then write an essay discussing the extent to which his family background influenced him when he wrote "Young Goodman Brown."
4..Why does Goodman Brown become "a stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man" after his experience in the forest? 
5..Why are people today fascinated with stories about witchcraft, sorcery, and magic? 
6..After Goodman Brown returns from the forest, he becomes a cynical man. Does he see evil where there is goodness? Identify “witch hunts” that are occurring today in your community or your country? For example, are people on one side of an issue attempting to discredit people on the other side of the issue by using unfair tactics that impugn the latter's reputation?
 


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Complete Text With Numbered Paragraphs

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Young Goodman Brown
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
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1  Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.

2  "Dearest heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, "pr'y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she's afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!"

3  "My love and my Faith," replied young Goodman Brown, "of all nights in the year, this one night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs be done 'twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we but three months married!"

4  "Then God bless you!" said Faith, with the pink ribbons, "and may you find all well, when you come back."

5  "Amen!" cried Goodman Brown. "Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no harm will come to thee."

6  So they parted; and the young man pursued his way, until, being about to turn the corner by the meeting-house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him, with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.

7  "Poor little Faith!" thought he, for his heart smote him. "What a wretch am I, to leave her on such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought, as she spoke, there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done to-night. But, no, no! 'twould kill her to think it. Well; she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven."

8  With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justified in making more haste on his present evil purpose. He had taken a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately behind. It was all as lonely as could be; and there is this peculiarity in such a solitude, that the traveller knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so that, with lonely footsteps, he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude.

9  "There may be a devilish Indian behind every tree," said Goodman Brown to himself; and he glanced fearfully behind him, as he added, "What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow!"

10  His head being turned back, he passed a crook of the road, and looking forward again, beheld the figure of a man, in grave and decent attire, seated at the foot of an old tree. He arose, at Goodman Brown's approach, and walked onward, side by side with him.

11  "You are late, Goodman Brown," said he. "The clock of the Old South was striking, as I came through Boston; and that is full fifteen minutes agone."

12  "Faith kept me back awhile," replied the young man, with a tremor in his voice, caused by the sudden appearance of his companion, though not wholly unexpected.

13  It was now deep dusk in the forest, and deepest in that part of it where these two were journeying. As nearly as could be discerned, the second traveller was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance to him, though perhaps more in expression than features. Still, they might have been taken for father and son. And yet, though the elder person was as simply clad as the younger, and as simple in manner too, he had an indescribable air of one who knew the world, and would not have felt abashed at the governor's dinner-table, or in King William's court, were it possible that his affairs should call him thither. But the only thing about him, that could be fixed upon as remarkable, was his staff, which bore the likeness of a great black snake, so curiously wrought, that it might almost be seen to twist and wriggle itself like a living serpent. This, of course, must have been an ocular deception, assisted by the uncertain light.

14  "Come, Goodman Brown!" cried his fellow-traveller, "this is a dull pace for the beginning of a journey. Take my staff, if you are so soon weary."

15  "Friend," said the other, exchanging his slow pace for a full stop, "having kept covenant by meeting thee here, it is my purpose now to return whence I came. I have scruples, touching the matter thou wot'st of."

16  "Sayest thou so?" replied he of the serpent, smiling apart. "Let us walk on, nevertheless, reasoning as we go, and if I convince thee not, thou shalt turn back. We are but a little way in the forest, yet."

17  "Too far, too far!" exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. "My father never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of honest men and good Christians, since the days of the martyrs. And shall I be the first of the name of Brown, that ever took this path and kept--"

18  "Such company, thou wouldst say," observed the elder person, interrupting his pause. "Well said, Goodman Brown! I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and that's no trifle to say. I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem. And it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip's War. They were my  good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and returned merrily after midnight. I would fain be friends with you, for their sake."

19  "If it be as thou sayest," replied Goodman Brown, "I marvel they never spoke of these matters. Or, verily, I marvel not, seeing that the least rumor of the sort would have driven them from New England. We are a people of prayer, and good works to boot, and abide no such wickedness."

20  "Wickedness or not," said the traveller with the twisted staff, "I have a very general acquaintance here in New England. The deacons of many a church have drunk the communion wine with me; the selectmen, of divers towns, make me their chairman; and a majority of the Great and General Court are firm supporters of my interest. The governor and I, too--but these are state-secrets."

21  "Can this be so!" cried Goodman Brown, with a stare of amazement at his undisturbed companion. "Howbeit, I have nothing to do with the governor and council; they have their own ways, and are no rule for a simple husbandman like me. But, were I to go on with thee, how should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem village? Oh, his voice would make me tremble, both Sabbath-day and lecture-day!"

22  Thus far, the elder traveller had listened with due gravity, but now burst into a fit of irrepressible mirth, shaking himself so violently that his snake-like staff actually seemed to wriggle in sympathy.

23  "Ha! ha! ha!" shouted he, again and again; then composing himself, "Well, go on, Goodman Brown, go on; but, pr'y thee, don't kill me with laughing!"

24  "Well, then, to end the matter at once," said Goodman Brown, considerably nettled, "there is my wife, Faith. It would break her dear little heart; and I'd rather break my own!"

25  "Nay, if that be the case," answered the other, "e'en go thy ways, Goodman Brown. I would not, for twenty old women like the one hobbling before us, that Faith should come to any harm."

26  As he spoke, he pointed his staff at a female figure on the path, in whom Goodman Brown recognized a very pious and exemplary dame, who had taught him his catechism in youth, and was still his moral and spiritual adviser, jointly with the minister and Deacon Gookin.

27  "A marvel, truly, that Goody Cloyse should be so far in the wilderness, at night-fall!" said he. "But, with your leave, friend, I shall take a cut through the woods, until we have left this Christian woman behind. Being a stranger to you, she might ask whom I was consorting with, and whither I was going."

28  "Be it so," said his fellow-traveller. "Betake you to the woods, and let me keep the path."

29  Accordingly, the young man turned aside, but took care to watch his companion, who advanced softly along the road, until he had come within a staff's length of the old dame. She, meanwhile, was making the best of her way, with singular speed for so aged a woman, and mumbling some indistinct words, a prayer, doubtless, as she went. The traveller put forth his staff, and touched her withered neck with what seemed the serpent's tail.

30  "The devil!" screamed the pious old lady.

31  "Then Goody Cloyse knows her old friend?" observed the traveller, confronting her, and leaning on his writhing stick.

32  "Ah, forsooth, and is it your worship, indeed?" cried the good dame. "Yea, truly is it, and in the very image of my old gossip, Goodman Brown, the grandfather of the silly fellow that now is. But--would your worship believe it?--my broomstick hath strangely disappeared, stolen, as I suspect, by that unhanged witch, Goody Cory, and that, too, when I was all anointed with the juice of smallage and cinque-foil and wolf's-bane--"

33  "Mingled with fine wheat and the fat of a new-born babe," said the shape of old Goodman Brown.

34  "Ah, your worship knows the recipe," cried the old lady, cackling aloud. "So, as I was saying, being all ready for the meeting, and no horse to ride on, I made up my mind to foot it; for they tell me, there is a nice young man to be taken into communion to-night. But now your good worship will lend me your arm, and we shall be there in a twinkling."

35  "That can hardly be," answered her friend. "I may not spare you my arm, Goody Cloyse, but here is my staff, if you will."

36  So saying, he threw it down at her feet, where, perhaps, it assumed life, being one of the rods which its owner had formerly lent to Egyptian Magi. Of this fact, however, Goodman Brown could not take cognizance. He had cast up his eyes in astonishment, and looking down again, beheld neither Goody Cloyse nor the serpentine staff, but his fellow-traveller alone, who waited for him as calmly as if nothing had happened.

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

38  They continued to walk onward, while the elder traveller exhorted his companion to make good speed and persevere in the path, discoursing so aptly, that his arguments seemed rather to spring up in the bosom of his auditor, than to be suggested by himself. As they went, he plucked a branch of maple, to serve for a walking-stick, and began to strip it of the twigs and little boughs, which were wet with evening dew. The moment his fingers touched them, they became strangely withered and dried up, as with a week's sunshine. Thus the pair proceeded, at a good free pace, until suddenly, in a gloomy hollow of the road, Goodman Brown sat himself down on the stump of a tree, and refused to go any farther.

39  "Friend," said he, stubbornly, "my mind is made up. Not another step will I budge on this errand. What if a wretched old woman do choose to go to the devil, when I thought she was going to Heaven! Is that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith, and go after her?"

40  "You will think better of this by-and-by," said his acquaintance, composedly. "Sit here and rest yourself awhile; and when you feel like moving again, there is my staff to help you along."

41  Without more words, he threw his companion the maple stick, and was as speedily out of sight, as if he had vanished into the deepening gloom. The young man sat a few moments by the road-side, applauding himself greatly, and 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. And what calm sleep would be his, that very night, which was to have been spent so wickedly, but purely and sweetly now, in the arms of Faith! Amidst these pleasant and praiseworthy meditations, Goodman Brown heard the tramp of horses along the road, and deemed it advisable to conceal himself within the verge of the forest, conscious of the guilty purpose that had brought him thither, though now so happily turned from it.

42  On came the hoof-tramps and the voices of the riders, two grave old voices, conversing soberly as they drew near. These mingled sounds appeared to pass along the road, within a few yards of the young man's hiding-place; but owing, doubtless, to the depth of the gloom, at that particular spot, neither the travellers nor their steeds were visible. Though their figures brushed the small boughs by the way-side, it could not be seen that they intercepted, even for a moment, the faint gleam from the strip of bright sky, athwart which they must have passed. Goodman Brown alternately crouched and stood on tip-toe, pulling aside the branches, and thrusting forth his head as far as he durst, without discerning so much as a shadow. It vexed him the more, because he could have sworn, were such a thing possible, that he recognized the voices of the minister and Deacon Gookin, jogging along quietly, as they were wont to do, when bound to some ordination or ecclesiastical council. While yet within hearing, one of the riders stopped to pluck a switch.

43  "Of the two, reverend Sir," said the voice like the deacon's, I had rather miss an ordination-dinner than tonight's meeting. They tell me that some of our community are to be here from Falmouth and beyond, and others from Connecticut and Rhode-Island; besides several of the Indian powows, who, after their fashion, know almost as much deviltry as the best of us. Moreover, there is a goodly young woman to be taken into communion."

44  "Mighty well, Deacon Gookin!" replied the solemn old tones of the minister. "Spur up, or we shall be late. Nothing can be done, you know, until I get on the ground."

45  The hoofs clattered again, and the voices, talking so strangely in the empty air, passed on through the forest, where no church had ever been gathered, nor solitary Christian prayed. Whither, then, could these holy men be journeying, so deep into the heathen wilderness? Young Goodman Brown caught hold of a tree, for support, being ready to sink down on the ground, faint and overburthened with the heavy sickness of his heart. He looked up to the sky, doubting whether there really was a Heaven above him. Yet, there was the blue arch, and the stars brightening in it.

46  "With Heaven above, and Faith below, I will yet stand firm against the devil!" cried Goodman Brown.

47  While he still gazed upward, into the deep arch of the firmament, and had lifted his hands to pray, a cloud, though no wind was stirring, hurried across the zenith, and hid the brightening stars. The blue sky was still visible, except directly overhead, where this black mass of cloud was sweeping swiftly northward. Aloft in the air, as if from the depths of the cloud, came a confused and doubtful sound of voices. Once, the listener fancied that he could distinguish the accent of town's-people of his own, men and women, both pious and ungodly, many of whom he had met at the communion-table, and had seen others rioting at the tavern. The next moment, so indistinct were the sounds, he doubted whether he had heard aught but the murmur of the old forest, whispering without a wind. Then came a stronger swell of those familiar tones, heard daily in the sunshine, at Salem village, but never, until now, from a cloud of night. There was one voice, of a young woman, uttering lamentations, yet with an uncertain sorrow, and entreating for some favor, which, perhaps, it would grieve her to obtain. And all the unseen multitude, both saints and sinners, seemed to encourage her onward.

48  "Faith!" shouted Goodman Brown, in a voice of agony and desperation; and the echoes of the forest mocked him, crying --"Faith! Faith!" as if bewildered wretches were seeking her, all through the wilderness.

49  The cry of grief, rage, and terror, was yet piercing the night, when the unhappy husband held his breath for a response. There was a scream, drowned immediately in a louder murmur of voices, fading into far-off laughter, as the dark cloud swept away, leaving the clear and silent sky above Goodman Brown. But something fluttered lightly down through the air, and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon.

50  "My Faith is gone!" cried he, after one stupefied moment. "There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil! for to thee is this world given."

51  And maddened with despair, so that he laughed loud and long, did Goodman Brown grasp his staff and set forth again, at such a rate, that he seemed to fly along the forest-path, rather than to walk or run. The road grew wilder and drearier, and more faintly traced, and vanished at length, leaving him in the heart of the dark wilderness, still rushing onward, with the instinct that guides mortal man to evil. The whole forest was peopled with frightful sounds; the creaking of the trees, the howling of wild beasts, and the yell of Indians; while, sometimes the wind tolled like a distant church-bell, and sometimes gave a broad roar around the traveller, as if all Nature were laughing him to scorn. But he was himself the chief horror of the scene, and shrank not from its other horrors.

52  "Ha! ha! ha!" roared Goodman Brown, when the wind laughed at him. "Let us hear which will laugh loudest! Think not to frighten me with your deviltry! Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powow, come devil himself! and here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you!"

53  In truth, all through the haunted forest, there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown. On he flew, among the black pines, brandishing his staff with frenzied gestures, now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting forth such laughter, as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him. The fiend in his own shape is less hideous, than when he rages in the breast of man. Thus sped the demoniac on his course, until, quivering among the trees, he saw a red light before him, as when the felled trunks and branches of a clearing have been set on fire, and throw up their lurid blaze against the sky, at the hour of midnight. He paused, in a lull of the tempest that had driven him onward, and heard the swell of what seemed a hymn, rolling solemnly from a distance, with the weight of many voices. He knew the tune; it was a familiar one in the choir of the village meeting-house. The verse died heavily away, and was lengthened by a chorus, not of human voices, but of all the sounds of the benighted wilderness, pealing in awful harmony together. Goodman Brown cried out; and his cry was lost to his own ear, by its unison with the cry of the desert.

54  In the interval of silence, he stole forward, until the light glared full upon his eyes. At one extremity of an open space, hemmed in by the dark wall of the forest, arose a rock, bearing some rude, natural resemblance either to an altar or a pulpit, and surrounded by four blazing pines, their tops aflame, their stems untouched, like candles at an evening meeting. The mass of foliage, that had overgrown the summit of the rock, was all on fire, blazing high into the night, and fitfully illuminating the whole field. Each pendent twig and leafy festoon was in a blaze. As the red light arose and fell, a numerous congregation alternately shone forth, then disappeared in shadow, and again grew, as it were, out of the darkness, peopling the heart of the solitary woods at once.

55  "A grave and dark-clad company!" quoth Goodman Brown.

56  In truth, they were such. Among them, quivering to-and-fro, between gloom and splendor, appeared faces that would be seen, next day, at the council-board of the province, and others which, Sabbath after Sabbath, looked devoutly heavenward, and benignantly over the crowded pews, from the holiest pulpits in the land. Some affirm, that the lady of the governor was there. At least, there were high dames well known to her, and wives of honored husbands, and widows, a great multitude, and ancient maidens, all of excellent repute, and fair young girls, who trembled lest their mothers should espy them. Either the sudden gleams of light, flashing over the obscure field, bedazzled Goodman Brown, or he recognized a score of the church-members of Salem village, famous for their especial sanctity. Good old Deacon Gookin had arrived, and waited at the skirts of that venerable saint, his reverend pastor. But, irreverently consorting with these grave, reputable, and pious people, these elders of the church, these chaste dames and dewy virgins, there were men of dissolute lives and women of spotted fame, wretches given over to all mean and filthy vice, and suspected even of horrid crimes. It was strange to see, that the good shrank not from the wicked, nor were the sinners abashed by the saints. Scattered, also, among their palefaced enemies, were the Indian priests, or powows, who had often scared their native forest with more hideous incantations than any known to English witchcraft.

57  "But, where is Faith?" thought Goodman Brown; and, as hope came into his heart, he trembled.

58  Another verse of the hymn arose, a slow and mournful strain, such as the pious love, but joined to words which expressed all that our nature can conceive of sin, and darkly hinted at far more. Unfathomable to mere mortals is the lore of fiends. Verse after verse was sung, and still the chorus of the desert swelled between, like the deepest tone of a mighty organ. And, with the final peal of that dreadful anthem, there came a sound, as if the roaring wind, the rushing streams, the howling beasts, and every other voice of the unconverted wilderness, were mingling and according with the voice of guilty man, in homage to the prince of all. The four blazing pines threw up a loftier flame, and obscurely discovered shapes and visages of horror on the smoke-wreaths, above the impious assembly. At the same moment, the fire on the rock shot redly forth, and formed a glowing arch above its base, where now appeared a figure. With reverence be it spoken, the figure bore no slight similitude, both in garb and manner, to some grave divine of the New-England churches.

59  "Bring forth the converts!" cried a voice, that echoed through the field and rolled into the forest.

60  At the word, Goodman Brown stepped forth from the shadow of the trees, and approached the congregation, with whom he felt a loathful brotherhood, by the sympathy of all that was wicked in his heart. He could have well nigh sworn, that the shape of his own dead father beckoned him to advance, looking downward from a smoke-wreath, while a woman, with dim features of despair, threw out her hand to warn him back. Was it his mother? But he had no power to retreat one step, nor to resist, even in thought, when the minister and good old Deacon Gookin seized his arms, and led him to the blazing rock. Thither came also the slender form of a veiled female, led between Goody Cloyse, that pious teacher of the catechism, and Martha Carrier, who had received the devil's promise to be queen of hell. A rampant hag was she! And there stood the proselytes, beneath the canopy of fire.

61  "Welcome, my children," said the dark figure, "to the communion of your race! Ye have found, thus young, your nature and your destiny. My children, look behind you!"

62  They turned; and flashing forth, as it were, in a sheet of flame, the fiend-worshippers were seen; the smile of welcome gleamed darkly on every visage.

63  "There," resumed the sable form, "are all whom ye have reverenced from youth. Ye deemed them holier than yourselves, and shrank from your own sin, contrasting it with their lives of righteousness, and prayerful aspirations heavenward. Yet, here are they all, in my worshipping assembly! This night it shall be granted you to know their secret deeds; how hoary-bearded elders of the church have whispered wanton words to the young maids of their households; how many a woman, eager for widow's weeds, has given her husband a drink at bed-time, and let him sleep his last sleep in her bosom; how beardless youth have made haste to inherit their father's wealth; and how fair damsels--blush not, sweet ones--have dug little graves in the garden, and bidden me, the sole guest, to an infant's funeral. By the sympathy of your human hearts for sin, ye shall scent out all the places--whether in church, bed-chamber, street, field, or forest--where crime has been committed, and shall exult to behold the whole earth one stain of guilt, one mighty blood-spot. Far more than this! It shall be yours to penetrate, in every bosom, the deep mystery of sin, the fountain of all wicked arts, and which inexhaustibly supplies more evil impulses than human power--than my power at its utmost!--can make manifest in deeds. And now, my children, look upon each other."

64  They did so; and, by the blaze of the hell-kindled torches, the wretched man beheld his Faith, and the wife her husband, trembling before that unhallowed altar.

65  "Lo! there ye stand, my children," said the figure, in a deep and solemn tone, almost sad, with its despairing awfulness, as if his once angelic nature could yet mourn for our miserable race. "Depending upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream! Now are ye undeceived! Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome, again, my children, to the communion of your race!"

66  "Welcome!" repeated the fiend-worshippers, in one cry of despair and triumph.

67  And there they stood, the only pair, as it seemed, who were yet hesitating on the verge of wickedness, in this dark world. A basin was hollowed, naturally, in the rock. Did it contain water, reddened by the lurid light? or was it blood? or, perchance, a liquid flame? Herein did the Shape of Evil dip his hand, and prepare to lay the mark of baptism upon their foreheads, that they might be partakers of the mystery of sin, more conscious of the secret guilt of others, both in deed and thought, than they could now be of their own. The husband cast one look at his pale wife, and Faith at him. What polluted wretches would the next glance show them to each other, shuddering alike at what they disclosed and what they saw!

68  "Faith! Faith!" cried the husband. "Look up to Heaven, and resist the Wicked One!"

69  Whether Faith obeyed, he knew not. Hardly had he spoken, when he found himself amid calm night and solitude, listening to a roar of the wind, which died heavily away through the forest. He staggered against the rock, and felt it chill and damp, while a hanging twig, that had been all on fire, besprinkled his cheek with the coldest dew.

70  The next morning, young Goodman Brown came slowly into the street of Salem village, staring around him like a bewildered man. The good old minister was taking a walk along the graveyard, to get an appetite for breakfast and meditate his sermon, and bestowed a blessing, as he passed, on Goodman Brown. He shrank from the venerable saint, as if to avoid an anathema. Old Deacon Gookin was at domestic worship, and the holy words of his prayer were heard through the open window. "What God doth the wizard pray to?" quoth Goodman Brown. Goody Cloyse, that excellent old Christian, stood in the early sunshine, at her own lattice, catechising a little girl, who had brought her a pint of morning's milk. Goodman Brown snatched away the child, as from the grasp of the fiend himself. Turning the corner by the meeting-house, he spied the head of Faith, with the pink ribbons, gazing anxiously forth, and bursting into such joy at sight of him, that she skipt along the street, and almost kissed her husband before the whole village. But Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting.

71  Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest, and only dreamed a wild dream of a witch-meeting?

72  Be it so, if you will. But, alas! it was a dream of evil omen for young Goodman Brown. A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man, did he become, from the night of that fearful dream. On the Sabbath-day, when the congregation were singing a holy psalm, he could not listen, because an anthem of sin rushed loudly upon his ear, and drowned all the blessed strain. When the minister spoke from the pulpit, with power and fervid eloquence, and with his hand on the open Bible, of the sacred truths of our religion, and of saint-like lives and triumphant deaths, and of future bliss or misery unutterable, then did Goodman Brown turn pale, dreading lest the roof should thunder down upon the gray blasphemer and his hearers. Often, awaking suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith, and at morning or eventide, when the family knelt down at prayer, he scowled, and muttered to himself, and gazed sternly at his wife, and turned away. And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave, a hoary corpse, followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grand-children, a goodly procession, besides neighbors, not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom.
 

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