It the Black Mass “while a woman,

It may be tempting to look upon this
story as a tale because it is difficult to draw conclusions from. Korb says the
ambiguous nature of the story is apparent throughout. For example, in the
seeming appearance of Brown’s dead father beckoning him to attend the Black
Mass “while a woman, with dim features of despair, threw out her hand to warn
him back. Was it his mother?” (Hawthorne 32). One of the more alarming
uncertainties lies in the character of Faith because from the very beginning of
the story, her Faith is called into question when she wears “pink hair ribbons
which could symbol a sign of frivolity” (Korb 1). It could also be said that
Faith herself has also agreed to a covenant with the Devil. She asks Brown not
to leave the evening of his departure because she is filled with “such thoughts
that she’s feared of herself sometimes” (24). But her voice is sad and it is as
if she had resigned herself to accepting that the evil is approaching. We find
out at the end of the story that Brown never knows if Faith also rejects the
Devil.               

Howes argues that at the start of the
story, Brown appears confident in his ability to choose between good and evil.
This then changes once he stands before the Devil’s altar with the other damned
communicants; he longer believes that good always prevails (Liebman 1). He soon
becomes a “profoundly disillusioned man who sees wickedness everywhere he turns
and in even in those who are closest to him (Howes 1). It could be said that
Brown’s final distrustful, alienated state is due to the result of a guilty
conscience. He cannot forgive himself or others for hidden sinfulness. Brown is
unwilling to accept the duality of human nature, which is the simultaneous
ability to be both innocent and evil. Young
Goodman Brown could also be seen as an illuminating allegory of Calvinist
belief in the Devil’s power and humanity’s basic depravity. Brown is seen as a
victim of Puritanism unlike those who were persecuted as witches in
seventeenth-century Salem.

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Brown tries to become a man who leans
too far over the edge of a pit. Thus the heavens darken and the symbolic pink
ribbon causes him to cry out in realization. He says “my Faith is gone!” (30),
as he laughs in despair. F. Walsh Jr. explains the storm in his soul and in the
forest then rises and he stumbles “into the heart of the dark forest depths
where there is symbolically represented the complete pervasion of all that he once
held dear” (F. Walsh Jr. 1). As Richard Fogle says, all the external
manifestations of his faith are turned upside down: “The Communion of Sin is,
in fact, the faithful counterpart of a grave and pious ceremony at a Puritan
meeting house…. Satan resembles some grave divine, and the initiation into
sin takes the form of baptism” Hawthorne’s Fiction: The Light and the Dark,
1952. As the external evidences of his religion are perverted, so is his very
Faith, which is symbolized by his discovering his wife in the unholy communion.
Secondly, there is the journey into Brown’s soul which
is dark and twisted and paralleled by his journey into the darkness of the
forest. When he first enters the forest, the readers are told: “He had taken a
dreary road, darkened by all the gloomiest trees of the forest, which barely
stood aside to let the narrow path creep through, and closed immediately
behind. It was all as lonely as could be (…)” (25). This act is symbolic
because of the fact that he is plunging into the road which leads to despair
and the immediate closing of the trees symbolizes the shutting of his escape.
He is alone and cut off from humanity but with one companion; that being the Devil
(F. Walsh Jr. 1).    

The Devil’s mass is an opportunity
for the reassertion of the natural impulses Brown must keep hidden in the
shadow. It gives him a chance to experience not only his other self but also
the free energies of nature for which his religious has no ordering and structuring
principle. D.J. Moores argues that while Brown is lifting his hands in order to
pray, he hears Faith’s voice. He calls out for her and she answers with a
scream. Faith is about to enter a meeting and so he then decides to attend as
well because all good is destroyed at this point in the story. He reaches a
clearing with a crude altar surrounded by the saints and sinners of Salem
(Wilson 1). While the Devil`s congregation sings an evil hymn rejoicing in sin
while Brown awaits looking for his wife Faith. At a call for the new members he
steps forward, and Faith is led forward by two women where he sees a dark
figure speaks of sin (Moores 1). He commands Brown and Faith to look at each
other and then declares that they now know virtue is but a dream and evil is
the nature of mankind. Goodman Brown cries out to Faith to resist this evil.
Brown does not find out whether or not he dreamed about the forest altercations
and the experience still has a profound effect on him. After that night, he
becomes a stern and sad man for the rest of his life. He rejects his wife and
the faith he once had in his religion. He has lived a life of gloom filled with
sinners everywhere (Moores 1).