Young Goodman Brown

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The devil first appears in the guise of Goodman’s grandfather, carrying a staff that resembles a serpent. He later appears as a dark figure. He meets Goodman Brown in the woods, reveals the hypocrisy of all the Puritan leaders Goodman respects, and lures Goodman and Faith to a satanic conversion ceremony.

The Devil Quotes in Young Goodman Brown

The Young Goodman Brown quotes below are all either spoken by The Devil or refer to The Devil. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Young Goodman Brown published in 2011.
Young Goodman Brown Quotes

"You are late, Goodman Brown," said he. "The clock of the Old South was striking, as I came through Boston; and that is full fifteen minutes agone."
"Faith kept me back awhile," replied the young man, with a tremor in his voice, caused by the sudden appearance of his companion, though not wholly unexpected.

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), The Devil (speaker), Faith
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

This quotation serves to make clear, if it wasn't already, the double meaning of Faith's name. When Goodman Brown tells the man that Faith kept him back awhile, he means not simply his wife but also his religious faith, which has caused him to doubt whether he should continue into the woods. Any instance in which Faith's name or person appears in "Young Goodman Brown" can be read with this double meaning.

The woods have been presented so far as frightening and dangerous, and the devil's appearance in the woods cements Goodman Brown's inkling that the woods are full of sin. As the story progresses, though, it becomes clear that evil is not limited to the woods. This is foreshadowed in this quotation when the devil indicates that he has just been in Boston, an orderly and pious city that is, like Salem, full of good Puritans. Just as the devil is not only found in the woods, Goodman Brown is destined to learn that evil and sin are not limited to the woods; wickedness pervades even the town of Salem, a place which Goodman Brown believed to be pure. 

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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.

Related Characters: The Devil
Related Symbols: The devil’s serpent staff
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

Though the man is plainly dressed, the presence of the snakelike staff reveals that the man is likely the devil. The fact that the devil is dressed in a way that would make him seem at home (and even respectable) in Goodman Brown's Puritan community serves to erode the plausibility of Goodman Brown's Puritan worldview in which those who appear to be upstanding must truly be good. This is another step towards Goodman Brown's realization that the possibility of sin is everywhere, and not just in places and people outside of Goodman Brown's community. 

Additionally, the quote is foreboding in that it recalls the serpent in the Biblical Garden of Eden, which is what introduces sin into the world when it tempts Adam and Eve with knowledge. The devil can be seen, too, as tempting Goodman Brown with knowledge in an effort to introduce him to sin. Because the staff is made of wood, a natural material, that appears to be wriggling (a supernatural act associated with evil), this quotation begins the story's conflation of evil with nature, which points to the complexity Hawthorne wants us to see in both the "forest" and in human nature, which is capable of both goodness and sin. 

“I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and that's no trifle to say. I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets of Salem; and it was I that brought your father a pitch-pine knot, kindled at my own hearth, to set fire to an Indian village, in King Philip's war.”

Related Characters: The Devil (speaker), Goodman Brown’s Father, Goodman’s Grandfather
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the devil is successfully eroding all of Goodman Brown's scruples about continuing down the path to sin. A major obstacle to him accepting sin is his family lineage, which he believes to be made entirely of good Salem Puritans. The devil, by informing Goodman Brown of his own relationship with Goodman Brown's family and ancestors, manipulates Goodman Brown's weak sense of morality, which rests on considering how he would be seen by his family and community. Note that this tactic would never work if Goodman Brown's sense of morality involved personally evaluating individual situations for himself.

The devil's examples of his actions also show how Hawthorne depicts evil as something very human and pervasive—not necessarily something supernatural or black-and-white, as the Puritans want to believe. Religious persecution, war, and murder are often justified by religion, but that doesn't make them any less evil or "devilish."

“"I marvel they never spoke of these matters; or, verily, I marvel not, seeing that the least rumor of the sort would have driven them from New England. We are a people of prayer, and good works to boot, and abide no such wickedness.”

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), The Devil, Goodman Brown’s Father, Goodman Brown’s Mother
Page Number: 196
Explanation and Analysis:
Goodman Brown here reveals a key problem with the repressive nature of Puritanism. Because someone's morality is understood in Puritan society as being tied to their outward appearance of goodness and purity, discussion of a person's failings or moral ambiguity is strictly taboo. Perhaps Goodman Brown would have been better able to understand his own sinful impulses if his family had discussed their experiences with him, but he has never heard these matters spoken of, and it distresses him. It only distresses him for a moment, though, since he immediately recognizes that the smallest rumor of the family's wickedness could have led to ostracism from their community, so it wouldn't have been worth the risk of bringing up the subject at all. This silencing of discussion in Puritan society directly leads to Goodman Brown's ineptitude at handling the situation in the woods, and at the end of the quotation we see Goodman Brown return to his self-delusion about the purity of his family ("[we] abide no such wickedness"), the kind of black-and-white logic that prevents him from coming to a nuanced understanding of sin.

“I shall take a cut through the woods until we have left this Christian woman behind. Being a stranger to you, she might ask whom I was consorting with and whither I was going.”

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), The Devil, Goody Cloyse
Page Number: 197
Explanation and Analysis:

This quotation, again, shows the Puritan obsession with outward appearances. Goodman Brown is walking through the woods with the devil, but when he sees a woman from his community whom he believes to be a good Christian, he says he will take a different path so she does not see him consorting with a stranger. In other words, what scares him most about this encounter is not his actual conversation with the devil, but the possibility of a woman from his community noticing that he has sinned. He seems less concerned that being with the devil could compromise his soul or his ability to go to heaven; instead, he sees his goodness as mostly the appearance of goodness in the eyes of his community. Further complicating this deception is that the woman, too, is revealed to be a sinner who lives in the community with a respectable appearance.

“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?"

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), Faith, The Devil, Goody Cloyse
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:
At this point in the story, Faith's presumed purity and morality are the only things keeping Goodman Brown from giving himself over to the devil. Despite all the hypocrisy that the devil has revealed (Goodman Brown's family's association with the devil, the community's secret sins, and even his own ability to resist sin), Goodman Brown is still clinging to the last scraps of his faith. It is notable here that Goodman Brown is speaking of "quitting" Faith his wife, rather than faith his religion. In this moment of trying to resist the devil, Goodman Brown is appealing to another person, rather than to his God or his own internal moral convictions. The Puritan tendency to locate faith in the seeming goodness of other people rather than in knowing the self to be virtuous is in evidence here.

"My Faith is gone!" cried he, after one stupefied moment. "There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil; for to thee is this world given."

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), Faith, The Devil
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

Once Goodman Brown believes that Faith has gone to the devil, he no longer has the strength to resist wickedness, and he literally (though this is a play on words) loses his faith. This points to the fact that Goodman Brown's faith is something that depends on the behavior of others, rather than something that comes from within himself. This also points to the extremism of his ideology: that after seeing that several members of his community have sinned, he believes that "there is no good on earth." Outside of Puritanism, this logic would be absurd, but the black-and-white, good vs. evil logic of Puritanism drives him to a despairing conclusion about the nature of the world. Indeed, he is driven to so much despair that he declares that "sin is but a name." By this he implies that to call something sinful is meaningless, since sin is the natural condition of the world. 

"Let us hear which will laugh loudest. Think not to frighten me with your deviltry. Come witch, come wizard, come Indian powwow, come devil himself, and here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him as he fear you."

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), The Devil
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

Goodman Brown has not only accepted now that he is a sinner, but he seems to have embraced it, too. In this quotation, he is speaking to the wind, which Hawthorne described as having laughed at him. As Hawthorne uses natural elements to imply moral dangers, Goodman Brown's taunting of the wind indicates that he is no longer threatened by the presence of sin. In fact, he summons sin ("Come witch, come wizard..."), and includes himself in the list of sinful entities. Thus, even though Goodman Brown has relinquished his commitment to Puritan morality, he is still operating within the Puritan worldview in which, now that he has sinned, he must be just as bad as "the devil himself." The Puritan worldview allows for no middle ground here, which is why Goodman Brown's taunt that the devil should fear Goodman Brown as Goodman Brown fears the devil seems somewhat extreme. 

The fiend in his own shape is less hideous than when he rages in the breast of man.

Related Characters: The Devil
Page Number: 201
Explanation and Analysis:

In this somewhat opaque sentence, Hawthorne describes Goodman Brown's transformation while also commenting on the nature of evil itself. Goodman Brown feels that he has become one of the wicked things that he once feared and despised. Hawthorne's wording, though, implies that Goodman Brown is, in some sense, also possessed by something outside of himself. It seems from this sentence that he is enacting a wickedness that he knows from Puritanism, but that is not "in its own shape," or is not natural to him. This, Hawthorne tells us, is much more terrible than something wicked acting in its own nature.

At the same time, Hawthorne also seems to be making a point about the humanity of evil. In Goodman Brown's Puritan worldview, he has been trained to see evil as something external and supernatural, existing as wicked magic or acts of the devil himself. Here Goodman Brown seems possessed and entirely given over to his stereotype of evil, but Hawthorne also suggests that the most terrible kinds of evil appear "in the breast of man"—through natural human wickedness. This connects to the devil's earlier claim that he had helped Goodman Brown's ancestors to beat an innocent woman or to burn an Indian village. These are acts that have nothing supernatural or religious about them, but they are still indisputably evil.

"There," resumed the sable form, "are all whom ye have reverenced from youth. Ye deemed them holier than yourselves, and shrank from your own sin, contrasting it with their lives of righteousness and prayerful aspirations heavenward. Yet here are they all in my worshipping assembly.”

Related Characters: The Devil (speaker), Goodman Brown, Faith
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
This is a quite literal statement of the hypocrisy of Puritanism. The devil tells the congregated townspeople that those in the community who were considered most pure, those who were considered to be the moral examples of the town, have, in fact, been living lives of sin. This is intended to upend Goodman Brown's faith and worldview, as the devil understands that Goodman Brown's faith has not given him strong personal moral convictions. Instead, his faith is based on comparing himself to the upright appearances of people in his community and maintaining the appearance of being good himself. Because this faith exists only relative to others, the devil can easily challenge it by revealing to Goodman Brown (or by appearing to reveal to him) that his community is full of hypocrites and sinners.

“Depending upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream. Now are ye undeceived. Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome again, my children, to the communion of your race.”

Related Characters: The Devil (speaker), Goodman Brown, Faith
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the devil plays to the black-and-white distinctions made between good and evil people in Puritanism. While it might be possible to attend such a gathering and understand that the people there have sinned but are not necessarily wholly evil, Goodman Brown and the devil subscribe to a much more extreme division of people, as is evident here. Since Goodman Brown has glimpsed his young wife consorting with the devil, he is susceptible to the devil's pronouncement that "evil is the nature of mankind," an extreme statement by any logic except that of Puritanism. 

This passage also speaks to the way that Puritanism externalizes faith, as believers derive their own faith from the appearance of virtue in those around them. The devil refers to the community having depended on "one another's hearts" in order to "hope that virtue were not all a dream." In this way, the devil's words suggest that if the Puritans had a more internalized sense of morality and virtue they would be able to look inside themselves and understand goodness, which would make them able to resist the cynicism inspired by seeing their community sin. Of course, this kind of internalized faith is unlikely by Puritan logic, since everyone is tempted by sin, and the strict Puritan division between wholly good and wholly bad means that if virtue came from within then everyone would know that they were not wholly virtuous. This whole story functions as a critique of the logical end of such a pattern of belief.

"Faith! Faith!" cried the husband, "look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one."

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), Faith, The Devil
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

While Goodman Brown has been unable to resist the devil up to this point, seeing his cherished Faith by the side of the devil gives him the strength to attempt to resist in the form of begging her not to give herself to the devil. In the context of the story, this is a tragic moment in which he has stood up to sin too late. Even though he ultimately resists the devil, which leaves him alone in the forest and subsequently lonely for the rest of his life, he has already been infected by the cynicism and misery of evil. He has, even though he seems to be standing up for it, already lost his faith. It is important to note that Hawthorne writes "cried the husband" rather than "said Goodman Brown." This seems to imply that Goodman Brown may not be standing up for his own moral beliefs, which are, by this point, dashed, but rather he seems to be standing up for the sanctity of family. He is speaking not as an individual, but as an embodiment of the role of the husband protecting his wife. 

Goodman Brown continues to make similar hollow gestures throughout the remainder of the story. He is described as living out his days following Puritan tradition without his heart in it; he still goes to church and raises a Puritan family, but he himself does not believe, and being around the Puritans whom he knows (or believes) to be hypocritical means that the religious gestures torment him.

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The Devil Character Timeline in Young Goodman Brown

The timeline below shows where the character The Devil appears in Young Goodman Brown. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Young Goodman Brown
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
At sunset in the town of Salem, Massachusetts, a man named Goodman Brown has just stepped over the threshold of the front door of his... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
Faith pleads with Goodman Brown not to leave her alone all night and instead to set out on his... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Now walking along on his way, Goodman Brown feels a crushing sense of guilt over leaving Faith, not just because she begged... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Goodman Brown resolves, after this one night, to stand by Faith after tonight and someday “follow... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
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Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Goodman Brown’s confidence doesn’t last long, however. A wave of dread and fear soon overwhelms him... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...of them walk through the deep forest in the darkening dusk, the narrator describes the man as ordinary and simply dressed, and considerably older than Goodman Brown. He looks enough like... (full context)
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
Sensing that Goodman Brown is tiring, the man offers him his staff to help pick up the pace.... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
The man shocks Goodman Brown by replying that he was good friends with Goodman Brown’s father, grandfather,... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
The man suggests that New England isn’t as holy as it claims, and describes drinking communion wine... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
As the man speaks, someone comes into sight on the path ahead: Goody Cloyse, a pious old woman... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
To Goodman Brown’s surprise and horror, Goody Cloyse greets the man as the devil and then addresses... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Goodman Brown and the devil walk on together. The narrator says that the devil argues very... (full context)
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Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
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Just then, Goodman Brown hears horsemen approaching. He feels guilty for being in the forest and so hides... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
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...stars, and from it he hears a murmur of voices. He recognizes the voices of many of the people of Salem, both the holy and the unholy ones, and he recognizes... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Crazed with despair, losing all hope that there is good on earth, Goodman Brown exclaims, “My Faith is gone!” He calls for the devil and then grasps the... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
...a sound like roaring wind and howling beasts, the pine trees burn brighter, and a figure appears at the pulpit. The narrator notes that the figure resembles some of the most... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
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The figure tells them to look at the congregation, and describes the hypocritical piety of all the... (full context)
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Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
The figure then tells them to look at each other. Goodman Brown recognizes the woman beside him... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
Goodman Brown staggers back to Salem the next morning, staring all around him like a crazy... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
The narrator wonders whether Goodman Brown’s night in the forest could have all been a dream, but says that even... (full context)