Literary Essay Example: Character Analysis in Young Goodman Brown

Published: 2022-04-08
Literary Essay Example: Character Analysis in Young Goodman Brown
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Nathaniel Hawthorne Character analysis
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1133 words
10 min read

Young Goodman Brown is s short story that was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In the story, the main character, Brown, embarks on a mission into the forest one night. He kisses his wife Faith goodbye despite Faith trying to convince him that he should wait until morning to go to the forest. In the forest, he encounters a man who resembles human beings except for his walking style. He has a walking stick that looks like a serpent. The man offers Brown the staff but Brown turns down the offer stating that he is a Christian and wishes to go back to his village after the meeting. The two come across a woman, Goody Cloyse hobbling in the woods. The woman is ashamed to see Brown but recognizes the man as the devil. When the man disappears, he leaves Brown with the staff and asks him to use it if he wishes to continue to the ceremony. Brown is shocked to hear voices of people coming from the ceremony including her wife Faith.

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Realizing that even the people he trusted most were transforming to devil worshiping, he decides to visit the ceremony. He tries to convince Faith to turn herself to go. The following morning he comes across the people who he met at the ceremony pretending to be faithful. He does not talk to Faith after realizing who she is. At the end of the story, Goodman Brown is a changed man, he does not trust anyone in the village including his wife Faith. This paper will analyze the characteristics of Goodman Brown as the main character and the transformation he takes after his encounter.

Characteristics of Goodman Brown


Goodman is portrayed as an innocent man who believes in Christianity and trusts those people around him. When the story begins the audience is presented with Brown who believes in the goodness of his father and grandfather. He only comes to know who they really were when the devil tells him that he knew them. Besides he believes in Christianity that is taught by Goody Cloyse (the minister) and Deacon Gookin. He thinks about the two as true Christians and true believers. He is surprised to know that Goody Cloyse is a witch and the other ministers are his followers. Finally, he trusts and loves Faith so much. When Faith tries to convince him not to go to the ceremony, he doesn't ask himself why she is trying to stop him from his mission. It is not until when the devil reveals to him that Faith is corruptible, that Brown realizes who Faith is.


When reading the story, the views may be convinced that Goodman Brown is strong and a man of his words. However, several instances in the story reveal that Brown can be swayed by human nature and that he believes too can be shaken. For instance, he refuses to attend the ceremony despite the devil convincing him that most people are in the ceremony. He changes his mind when he hears the voice of her Voice coming from the ceremony. At that instance, he takes the staff that he had sworn not to use "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"(part 8). The author indicates that Brown's faith is not strong and can be shaken by circumstances.

He is a family man

The author opens the story by introducing to the audience Goodman Brown who is a loving husband to his wife. First "he sticks his head back after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife" (part 1). He then convinces Faith that no evil will come upon her when he is gone and he will surely be back to her. Besides, when he encountered the devil, he keeps mentioning that he wants to go back to her wife Faith. This is an indication that he is a loving husband. Furthermore, he mentions that his father would not have undertaken the errand he was about to undertake. This indicates that before Brown embarks on any activity, he thinks about the people around him especially the family members.

Obstacles that Brown encounters

When Brown embarks on his journey to an unknown meeting in the forest, he meets several obstacles that threaten his Christianity faith. First, he learns that his father and grandfather were part of the evil mission as the devil tells him that he knew them. Additionally, he finds that Deacon Gookin and minister Goody Cloyse are also part of the evil ceremony. He is surprised to find that the people that were true believers are also evil. Finally, he finds that Faith, his wife whom he trusted and loved so much, was part of the evil mission. These obstacles challenge his faith and his trust in people he loves and treasures.

Change after the obstacles

After the Good Brown learns that there is nothing good in the world. He learns that indeed most people are not who we think they are. Most people are evil and hide in religion. When he returns to Salem Village, he sees every person as evil. When he looks at the ministers who blesses him, he refuses to accept their blessings. He hears Deacon Gookin praying and he calls him a wizard. When he sees Good Close teaching a young girl Bible verses, he pulls the girl from Goody. On the Sabbath, when he hears the congregation singing psalms, "he could not listen because an anthem of sin rushed loudly upon his ear and drowned all the blessed strain" (part 13). He stopped looking at his wife the same way he did. In fact, he did not say hi to her the morning after the evil encounter. In short, Brown stopped trusting everyone in the village, stopped believing in any words from the ministers and stops loving his wife the way he did.

To sum up Young Goodman Brown is s short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne narrating about a young man Brown who went on a mission in a forest one night. In the forest, the young man realized that most people in his village including the gospel ministers and his wife were evil people. His character of innocence is used by the author to illustrate how people never know about the true colors of those close to them. Brown is a family man as indicated by his love for his wife. However, after the encounter, Brown stops trusting people and realized that most people were evil and were hiding in religion.


Hawthorne, N. (2018). Young Goodman Brown by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Retrieved 16 March 2018, from

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