Nathaniel Hawthorne's, "Young Goodman Brown" is a short story that takes place at sunset in Salem where Goodman Brown is about to go on a journey into the forest. As he is saying goodbye to his wife, Faith, while she begs him not to go and to just stay with her. Before Goodman Brown's journey, Hawthorne indicates that there is more to faith than just the name when he says, "He looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him with a melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons" (100). As the story progresses, we see that Faith is the center theme of Hawthorne's story; it symbolizes man's fundamental and instinctive attraction to evil and how understanding one's faith can destroy a man.
Goodman Brown's story takes place at night in Salem in the nineteenth century, where there is a high population of Puritans. He is headed to the forest to fufill an, "evil purpose" (Hawthorne 101). At first, landscape is described as, "a dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest" (101). Once Goodman Brown meets with a mysterious man, who tempts him to come deeper into the forest with him, the landscape becomes, "lonely as could be" (101). In the nineteenth century, the forest viewed as a place of evil, which explains Hawthorne's description of the, "innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead" (101). The darkness and gloominess portrays how the Puritans viewed the forest as a place where evil acts occurred. A forest's tree trunks and their leaves block its inhabitants from the outside world altogether; the trees are hiding the sinful acts. Young Goodman Brown realizes that the further he goes into the forest by following this man, who resembles the devil, the farther away from Faith he will be. The dark imagery that Hawthorne is using to describe the forest helps express the surreal aspect of faith itself and how Goodman Brown is trying to understand it.
Goodman Brown's views on Faith and human nature are altered after his experience in the forest; the devil describing evil as "the nature of mankind" (110). When Goodman Brown first encounters the mysterious traveler, he is hesitant to continue into the forest saying that, "Not another step will I budge on this errand…Why should I quit my dear Faith" (105); however, after the man says that he was friends with Brown's family, Goodman Brown says that, "We are people of prayer…and abide no such wickedness" (102). The man shares with Goodman Brown that other towns-people are attending this gathering in the forest, such as Deacon Gookin, saying that, "A majority of Great and General Court are firm supporters of my interest…But these are state secrets" (102). Goodman Brown finds his Faith slowly slipping away as he finds out that people he believed to be faithful Puritans were participating in evil...