What are the effects on an individual of believing that only 2 such extremes exist? How does Young Goodman Brown react to his beleifs in these two extremes? How do Young Goodman Brown, his wife Faith, and his companion, the Traveler, function within into these two extremes?
Puritans definitely believed in the devil, evil spirits, dreams as premonitions, witches, demons, and possessions by evil spirits. While reading this story, you need to remember to read it within its own reality, the believed reality of the Puritans during this time period, and not our own reality of the 21st century USA. If you read this story with our own reality and societal rules in mind, it will be difficult to understand.
The title “Goodman” means something like Mr. and “Goody,” as in Goody Cloyse, is Mrs.
According to our text book, a symbol is: a person, event, or thing that stands for or represents by association some other, usually broader, idea or range of ideas, in addition to maintaining its own literal meaning. In other words, a symbol has a literal as well as a figurative meaning.
Symbols are very important in “Young Goodman Brown.” What are some classic symbols of good and evil? Look for these as you go through this story. What symbols can you find in this story? There are a lot of them and after you get used to seeing them, they will be easier to recognize. Is it possible that this whole story might be a symbol of something else? What general message is the story trying to get across?
The end of the story suggests to us that it is possible that the entire story was a dream. Have you ever had a dream that seemed so real that you had to actually check when you woke up to make sure that something did or did not really happen? Do you believe Young Goodman Brown’s experience was a dream or reality? Why or why not?