Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on the forth of July 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, a descendant of Puritan immigrants; one ancestor had been a judge in the Salem witchcraft trials. Maybe this is where he got some of his inspiration for the story 'Young Goodman Brown'
The story of Young Goodman Brown is not just written to amuse people. It is a story told with two levels of meaning: a literal and a symbolic one. The symbolic meaning reflects moral themes. Hawthorne uses one thing to represent another. In this story for example the names do have a deeper meaning. Young Goodman Brown is called so because he really sees himself as a good man, which is in my opinion ironic cause he thinks he's better than the other people in his town, but meanwhile he just does the same as them and walks with the devil. Also the name of his wife 'Faith' has a symbolic meaning. It isn't just the name of his wife but it also represents his faith in God. When he first meets with the devil he says: " Faith kept me back awhile ". So this doesn't only mean that his wife kept him back, but also that psychologically his faith in God kept him away from the devil at first.
Young Goodman Brown describes the man's staff as the only strange thing about him: " 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". There are 2 different references I can think of, both are biblical and both would represent the staff as an object that shows the wickedness of Goodman Browns fellow-traveler. The first reference I was thinking of is that of the snake in Genesis who leads Adam and Eve to the Tree of Knowledge and told them it was alright to eat it's fruit and cause they listened they where expelled from the garden of Eden.
The second reference I was thinking of is also talked about in the story: Exodus 7.11: the magicians of Egypt who duplicated Aaron's feat of casting down his rod before Pharaoh and making it turn into a serpent. The magicians of the pharaoh where also wicked, cause their power didn't come from God, neither does the power of Goodman Browns fellow-traveler.
Later on Young Goodman Brown refused to go any further after he saw goody Cloyse, the woman who taught him his catechism, talking with the devil. ( "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?" ) here also the name of his wife 'Faith' represents again his own faith in God. This is also a part where the irony of his name 'Goodman' can be seen, cause he is so blind with his own pride and good image of himself ( "applauding himself...