- The story starts with a farewell between Young Goodman Brown and his wife, Faith, at sunset. Faith tries to persuade him to stay and leave in the morning so she doesn't have to worry. YGB assures her and himself that everything will be fine.
- YGB walks along a dreary road in the forest where he fears seeing a devilish Indian or the devil himself. He comes a across a man seated at a tree who seemed to be expecting him. He looked like any other man, besides his long staff with a serpent wrapped around it.
- They walk side by side and talk. After the man offers YGB his staff and he refuses, YGB tells the man how his family is Christian. The man tells YGB how he knew his father and his grandfather and talks about the time they spent together.
- The two come across a women who YGB recognizes to be Goody Cloyse, a pious woman from the village. He doesn't want to be seen with the man with the staff so he hides. Goody identifies the man as the devil and her as a witch. She mentions she is on her way to the evil worship ceremony.
- After witnessing this, YGB says he wants to return back and not quit on Faith. The man offers him his staff to help him walk in case he changes his mind about the ceremony. The man disappears and YGB suddenly hears horses traveling nearby and hides again.
The Plot (continued)
- He hears the church minister and deacon Gookin walking, also on their way to the devil worship ceremony. YGB cannot believe what he sees but he still promises to stay loyal to God for Faith. However he suddenly hears the voice of Faith in a group of people heading to the ceremony and sees her pink ribbon.
- Since there is no good left in the world, YGB graves the serpent staff and he is quickly transported toward the devil worship ceremony. Here he sees the faces of many people he knew and respected. When he doesn't see Faith, he hopes that she hasn't showed up.
- The leader of the ceremony orders all of the converts to be presented. YGB is dragged out by the deacon along with another person who is covered with a robe. It turns out to be Faith, and YGB beckons her to look up to Heaven and resist the devil. Suddenly he is all alone in the forest.
- He returns to his town and he passes all of the people he saw at the worship ceremony and he trusts no one. He sees the minister as well as the deacon who is praying and calls him a wizard. He sees Goody quizzing a girl on the bible and YGB takes the girl away. When he gets home he refuses to greet Faith and no longer fully loves her. It isn't clear whether the whole thing was a dream or not, but it changed YGB forever.
- The Loss of Innocence- although proud to be a strong Christian, Goodman Brown consciously decides to go into the forest to visit the devil and witness the worship ceremony, thus stripping him of his innocence. Whether the events that happened in the forest were a dream or not, his loss of innocence was inevitable; it stiles shows the inherent dark side of him. A loss of innocence is also seen by his wife Faith when she is converted at the worship ceremony as well.
- Fear of the Wilderness- throughout the story, Goodman Brown was scared if the forest and what it may hold. From the moment he steps into it he fears savage Indians and the devil himself constantly hears voices and noises. He feels as though his family honor is at risk since he knows that his father or grandfather would never have stepped foot into the forest and if they have, not nearly as far in as Goodman is. Goodman is only comfortable in throat after he gives into the devil.
- Weakness of Society and Morality- throughout the story we discover all of the characters that Goodman thought to be respectable moral people have turned to worship the devil at the ceremony in the forest. Although Goodman agreed to meet the devil in the forest, he is still scared of being seen by people he knows from the town, emphasizing the effect public morality has on personal religious life. Once Goodman Brown discovers everyone he knows and loves has turned to worship the devil, he quickly follows and does the same by grabbing the devils serpent staff. This shows that one follows the beliefs of others, and doesn't choose their own moral decisions.
Major Character Analysis
- Young Goodman Brown- lives in Salem with his wife of 3 months. He is very Christian and takes pride in his family's faithfulness. His curiosity however leads him into accepting an invitation into the forest from a mysterious man to watch a devil worshipping ceremony. After being involved in the ceremony and learning his peers aren't who they say they are, he is changed forever.
- Faith- wife of Goodman Brown who worries about his adventure into the forest. She is seen wearing a pink bow on her cap which symbolizes youth and innocence. She is later seen by Goodman Brown at the worship ceremony in the forest as one of the converts.
- The Old Man- the old man, or devil, is the one who invited Young Goodman Brown to the ceremony in the forest. He walks with a staff with a serpent carved in it. He tempts Goodman Brown to walk deeper into the forest and attend the ceremony after each of Goodman's refusals. Ends up winning and gets him to come to the ceremony.
Major Character Analysis (Continued)
- Goody Cloyse- a citizen of Salem who is known by Goodman Brown to be a respectable and pious lady. She reveals herself to be a witch to the old man. She used to teach the bible to Goodman Brown, as is her job to teach it to children. Participates in the devil worship ceremonies in the forest.
- The Minister- he is the minister in the church of Salem. He is respected as a major part in this Christian community, but is learned by Goodman to be a worshipper of the devil.
- Deacon Gookin- member of the clergy in Salem who is usually seen with the minister. He is thought to be very religious by Goodman but it is learned that he also worships the devil at the forest ceremonies.
- The Staff- the staff which is held by the old man has a serpent carved into it. This references the serpent in the Bible which tempts Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The old man tries to tempt YGB into going to the devil worship ceremony and offers him the staff three times, saying it will help him get there quickly. When Goodman Brown accepts the staff after the third offer, he is on the path toward evil as he is transported to the worship ceremony.
- The Pink Ribbon in Faiths hair- the color pink is associated with innocence and modesty. The pink ribbon is mentioned many times to describe the young and joyful character that Faith is. When Goodman Brown finds the ribbon, it signifies Faiths loss of purity.
- The Forest- in the story the forest is where YGB meets the devil and where the devil worship ceremony takes place. The forest symbolizes a place of evil such as hell. It can also represent a place where man is tempted such as the Garden of Eden was to Adam and Eve.