Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown,” first published in New England Magazine in 1835, is a dark and allegorical short story that delves into the themes of sin, morality, and the conflict between good and evil. Set in the Puritan community of Salem, Massachusetts during the 17th century, the narrative follows the newly married Goodman Brown as he embarks on a mysterious journey into the forest, confronts the devil, and has his perspective changed forever. Hawthorne’s exploration of the nature of evil throughout allows the story to serve as an allegory for the fall of man as well as a commentary on the hypocrisy of Puritan values.

The forest, shrouded in darkness and filled with mysterious figures, becomes a realm where Goodman Brown confronts the darker aspects of human nature. The story raises questions about the nature of morality and the thin line between righteousness and temptation. Hawthorne's portrayal of the Puritan community reflects the rigid moral standards of that time, emphasizing the consequences of both societal and personal hypocrisy.

“Young Goodman Brown” is considered a classic example of American Romanticism, with its exploration of the psychological and moral struggles faced by individuals. Many of Hawthorne’s Romantic-era contemporaries celebrated his dark tale, and literary scholars today continue to turn to it for its powerful message.

Read the free full text, the full story summary, an in-depth character analysis of Goodman Brown, and explanations of important quotes from “Young Goodman Brown.”

Upgrade to PLUS and get instant access to all the study tools

Upgrade to PLUS and get instant access to all the study tools


Go to BN.com to get your copy of these helpful resources.