Young Goodman Brown
Goodman Brown's actions in the story, Young Goodman Brown, are a key element to this story's theme. The author uses Goodman Brown's movement in and out of the forest, as a method of symbolizing the theme of a symbolic journey into the depths of consciousness. As the hours of the night pass, Goodman Brown travels farther into the forest, and deeper into the depths of consciousness. This theme is present in many passages of the text.
The story begins with the line, "Young Goodman Brown came forth at sunset into the street of Salem village; but put his head back, after crossing the threshold, to exchang a parting kiss with his young wife,". At this point of the story, there partial daylight and Goodman Brown is consciously aware of his trust in his wife, Faith, his faith in his religion. He says to his wife, "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,". Goodman Brown feels that something inside him needs to go on this journey. There is a reason why he consciously feels like he has to go; he needs to test the perceptions he has of his life. By leaving at sunset, Goodman Brown is going into the darkness; the light is gone, and the night represents unsafety. The night allows Goodman Brown to sink deeper into the depths of his conscience, causing his mind to be less alert; thus, representing the unsafety. He is willing to accept this unsafety, however, in order to test his perceptions. In order to clear his conscience, he must take this journry, which can occur only on this very night.
The road Goodman Brown takes into the forest is, "darkened by all the gloomiest trees in the forest, which barely...[stand] aside to let the narrow path creep through, and...[close] immidiately behind,". As he travels farther into the forest, and further away from Faith (faith), it becomes harder for him to find his way back. The forest "closes" behind him, symbolizing his enterance into a different state of consciousness. The forest, in this story, is a symbol for Goodman Brown's conscience, which includes the roots of all his perceptions. Once he enters the depths of his conscience, he judges his preceptions, and this makes it harder for him to submerge with these same perceptions in tact. The devil confuses Goodman Brown's judgment in this story and ultimately after his journey, Goodman Brown will see everything in a new light.
When Goodman Brown starts his journey, he is symbolically leaving behind his wife, Faith, and his faith in his religion. They are two things he is consciously aware of, until ironically after his journey. The faith Goodman Brown has in his wife and religion, however, are the only two things that temporarily hold him back from his journey. "Faith kept me back a while," he replies to the traveller (the devil) in the forest. The devil ignores him and says, "Come,...