Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"
Young Goodman Brown
By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Edited by Jack Lynch
The text comes from the 1846 edition of Mosses from an Old Manse, vol. 1. I've
added paragraph numbers for easy reference.
Young Goodman Brown
Goodman Brown came forth at sunset, into the street of Salem village, but put his head
back, after crossing the threshold, to exchange a parting kiss with his young wife. And Faith, as
the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the
pink ribbons of her cap, while she called to Goodman Brown.
“Dearest heart,” whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear,
“pr'ythee, put oﬀ your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is
troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she's afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry
with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!”
“My love and my Faith,” replied young Goodman Brown, “of all nights in the year, this one
night must I tarry away from thee. My journey, as thou callest it, forth and back again, must needs
be done 'twixt now and sunrise. What, my sweet, pretty wife, dost thou doubt me already, and we
but three months married!”
“ en God bless you!” said Faith, with the pink ribbons, “and may you ﬁnd all well, when you
“Amen!” cried Goodman Brown. “Say thy prayers, dear Faith, and go to bed at dusk, and no
harm will come to thee.”
So they parted; and the young man pursued his way, until, being about to turn the corner by the
meeting-house, he looked back and saw the head of Faith still peeping after him, with a
melancholy air, in spite of her pink ribbons.
“Poor little Faith!” thought he, for his heart smote him. “What a wretch am I, to leave her on
such an errand! She talks of dreams, too. Methought, as she spoke, there was trouble in her face,
as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done to-night. But, no, no! 't would kill her to
think it. Well; she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and
follow her to Heaven.”
With this excellent resolve for the future, Goodman Brown felt himself justiﬁed in making
more haste on his present evil purpose. 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; and there is this peculiarity in such a
solitude, that the traveller knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the
thick boughs overheard; so that, with lonely footsteps, he may yet be passing through an unseen
Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"
“ ere may be a devilish Indian behind every tree,” said Goodman Brown to himself; and he
glanced fearfully behind him, as he added, “What if the devil himself should be at my very
His head being turned back, he passed a crook of the road, and looking forward again, beheld
the ﬁgure of a man, in grave and decent attire, seated at the foot of an old tree. He arose, at
Goodman Brown's approach, and walked onward, side by side with him.
“You are late, Goodman Brown,” said he. “ e 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.
It was now deep dusk in the forest, and deepest in that part of it where these two were
journeying. As nearly as could be discerned, the second traveller was about ﬁfty years old,
apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance
to him, though perhaps more in expression than features. Still, they might have been taken for
father and son. And yet, though the elder person was as simply clad as the younger, and as simple
in manner too, he had an indescribable air of one who knew the world, and would not have felt
abashed at the governor's dinner-table, or in King William's court, were it possible that his aﬀairs
should call him thither. 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. is, of course, must have been an ocular
deception, assisted by the uncertain light.
“Come, Goodman Brown!” cried his fellow-traveller, “this is a dull pace for the beginning of
a journey. Take my staﬀ, if you are so soon weary.”
“Friend,” said the other, exchanging his slow pace for a full stop, “having kept covenant by
meeting thee here, it is my purpose now to return whence I came. I have scruples, touching the
matter thou wot'st of.”
“Sayest thou so?” replied he of the serpent, smiling apart. “Let us walk on, nevertheless,
reasoning as we go, and if I convince thee not, thou shalt turn back. We are but a little way in the
“Too far, too far!” exclaimed the goodman, unconsciously resuming his walk. “My father
never went into the woods on such an errand, nor his father before him. We have been a race of
honest men and good Christians, since the days of the martyrs. And shall I be the ﬁrst of the name
of Brown, that ever took this path and kept” —
“Such company, thou wouldst say,” observed the elder person, interrupting his pause. “Well
said, Goodman Brown! 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.
ey were my good friends, both; and many a pleasant walk have we had along this path, and
returned merrily after midnight. I would fain be friends with you, for their sake.”
“If it be as thou sayest,” replied Goodman Brown, “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
Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"
“Wickedness or not,” said the traveller with the twisted staﬀ, “I have a very general
acquaintance here in New England. e deacons of many a church have drunk the communion
wine with me; the selectmen, of divers towns, make me their chairman; and a majority of the
Great and General Court are ﬁrm supporters of my interest. e governor and I, too — but these
“Can this be so!” cried Goodman Brown, with a stare of amazement at his undisturbed
companion. “Howbeit, I have nothing to do with the governor and council; they have their own
ways, and are no rule for a simple husbandman like me. But, were I to go on with thee, how
should I meet the eye of that good old man, our minister, at Salem village? Oh, his voice would
make me tremble, both Sabbath-day and lecture-day!”
us far, the elder traveller had listened with due gravity, but now burst into a ﬁt of
irrepressible mirth, shaking himself so violently, that his snake-like staﬀ actually seemed to
wriggle in sympathy.
“Ha! ha! ha!” shouted he, again and again; then composing himself, “Well, go on, Goodman
Brown, go on; but, prithee, don't kill me with laughing!”
“Well, then, to end the matter at once,” said Goodman Brown, considerably nettled, “there is
my wife, Faith. It would break her dear little heart; and I'd rather break my own!”
“Nay, if that be the case,” answered the other, “e'en go thy ways, Goodman Brown. I would
not, for twenty old women like the one hobbling before us, that Faith should come to any harm.”
he spoke, he pointed his staﬀ at a female ﬁgure on the path, in whom Goodman Brown
recognized a very pious and exemplary dame, who had taught him his catechism in youth, and
was still his moral and spiritual adviser, jointly with the minister and Deacon Gookin.
“A marvel, truly, that Goody Cloyse should be so far in the wilderness, at night-fall!” said he.
“But, with your leave, friend, 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.”
“Be it so,” said his fellow-traveller. “Betake you to the woods, and let me keep the path.”
the young man turned aside, but took care to watch his companion, who
advanced softly along the road, until he had come within a staﬀ's length of the old dame. She,
meanwhile, was making the best of her way, with singular speed for so aged a woman, and
mumbling some indistinct words, a prayer, doubtless, as she went. e traveller put forth his staﬀ,
and touched her withered neck with what seemed the serpent's tail.
e devil!” screamed the pious old lady.
“ en Goody Cloyse knows her old friend?” observed the traveller, confronting her, and
leaning on his writhing stick.
“Ah, forsooth, and is it your worship, indeed?” cried the good dame. “Yea, truly is it, and in
the very image of my old gossip, Goodman Brown, the grandfather of the silly fellow that now is.
But, would your worship believe it? my broomstick hath strangely disappeared, stolen, as I
suspect, by that unhanged witch, Goody Cory, and that, too, when I was all anointed with the
juice of smallage and cinque-foil and wolf's-bane” —
“Mingled with ﬁne wheat and the fat of a new-born babe,” said the shape of old Goodman
Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"
“Ah, your worship knows the recipe,” cried the old lady, cackling aloud. “So, as I was saying,
being all ready for the meeting, and no horse to ride on, I made up my mind to foot it; for they tell
me, there is a nice young man to be taken into communion to-night. But now your good worship
will lend me your arm, and we shall be there in a twinkling.”
“ at can hardly be,” answered her friend. “I may not spare you my arm, Goody Cloyse, but
here is my staﬀ, if you will.”
So saying, he threw it down at her feet, where, perhaps, it assumed life, being one of the rods
which its owner had formerly lent to the Egyptian Magi. Of this fact, however, Goodman Brown
could not take cognizance. He had cast up his eyes in astonishment, and looking down again,
beheld neither Goody Cloyse nor the serpentine staﬀ, but his fellow-traveller alone, who waited
for him as calmly as if nothing had happened.
“ at old woman taught me my catechism!” said the young man; and there was a world of
meaning in this simple comment.
ey continued to walk onward, while the elder traveller exhorted his companion to make
good speed and persevere in the path, discoursing so aptly, that his arguments seemed rather to
spring up in the bosom of his auditor, than to be suggested by himself. As they went, he plucked a
branch of maple, to serve for a walking-stick, and began to strip it of the twigs and little boughs,
which were wet with evening dew. e moment his ﬁngers touched them, they became strangely
withered and dried up, as with a week's sunshine. us the pair proceeded, at a good free pace,
until suddenly, in a gloomy hollow of the road, Goodman Brown sat himself down on the stump
of a tree, and refused to go any farther.
“Friend,” said he, stubbornly, “my mind is made up. Not another step will I budge on this
errand. 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?”
“You will think better of this by-and-by,” said his acquaintance, composedly. “Sit here and
rest yourself awhile; and when you feel like moving again, there is my staﬀ to help you along.”
Without more words, he threw his companion the maple stick, and was as speedily out of
sight as if he had vanished into the deepening gloom. e young man sat a few moments by the
road-side, applauding himself greatly, and thinking with how clear a conscience he should meet
the minister, in his morning-walk, nor shrink from the eye of good old Deacon Gookin. And what
calm sleep would be his, that very night, which was to have been spent so wickedly, but purely
and sweetly now, in the arms of Faith! Amidst these pleasant and praiseworthy meditations,
Goodman Brown heard the tramp of horses along the road, and deemed it advisable to conceal
himself within the verge of the forest, conscious of the guilty purpose that had brought him
thither, though now so happily turned from it.
On came the hoof-tramps and the voices of the riders, two grave old voices, conversing
soberly as they drew near. ese mingled sounds appeared to pass along the road, within a few
yards of the young man's hiding-place; but owing, doubtless, to the depth of the gloom, at that
particular spot, neither the travellers nor their steeds were visible. ough their ﬁgures brushed
the small boughs by the way-side, it could not be seen that they intercepted, even for a moment,
the faint gleam from the strip of bright sky, athwart which they must have passed. Goodman
Brown alternately crouched and stood on tip-toe, pulling aside the branches, and thrusting forth
his head as far as he durst, without discerning so much as a shadow. It vexed him the more,
because he could have sworn, were such a thing possible, that he recognized the voices of the
minister and Deacon Gookin, jogging along quietly, as they were wont to do, when bound to
some ordination or ecclesiastical council. While yet within hearing, one of the riders stopped to
pluck a switch.
Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"
“Of the two, reverend Sir,” said the voice like the deacon's, “I had rather miss an ordinationdinner than to-night's meeting. ey tell me that some of our community are to be here from
Falmouth and beyond, and others from Connecticut and Rhode Island; besides several of the
Indian powows, who, after their fashion, know almost as much deviltry as the best of us.
Moreover, there is a goodly young woman to be taken into communion.”
“Mighty well, Deacon Gookin!” replied the solemn old tones of the minister. “Spur up, or we
shall be late. Nothing can be done, you know, until I get on the ground.”
e hoofs clattered again, and the voices, talking so strangely in the empty air, passed on
through the forest, where no church had ever been gathered, nor solitary Christian prayed.
Whither, then, could these holy men be journeying, so deep into the heathen wilderness? Young
Goodman Brown caught hold of a tree, for support, being ready to sink down on the ground, faint
and over-burthened with the heavy sickness of his heart. He looked up to the sky, doubting
whether there really was a Heaven above him. Yet, there was the blue arch, and the stars
brightening in it.
“With Heaven above, and Faith below, I will yet stand ﬁrm against the devil!” cried Goodman
While he still gazed upward, into the deep arch of the ﬁrmament, and had lifted his hands to
pray, a cloud, though no wind was stirring, hurried across the zenith, and hid the brightening stars.
e blue sky was still visible, except directly overhead, where this black mass of cloud was
sweeping swiftly northward. Aloft in the air, as if from the depths of the cloud, came a confused
and doubtful sound of voices. Once, the listener fancied that he could distinguish the accents of
town's-people of his own, men and women, both pious and ungodly, many of whom he had met at
the communion-table, and had seen others rioting at the tavern. e next moment, so indistinct
were the sounds, he doubted whether he had heard aught but the murmur of the old forest,
whispering without a wind. en came a stronger swell of those familiar tones, heard daily in the
sunshine, at Salem village, but never, until now, from a cloud of night. ere was one voice, of a
young woman, uttering lamentations, yet with an uncertain sorrow, and entreating for some favor,
which, perhaps, it would grieve her to obtain. And all the unseen multitude, both saints and
sinners, seemed to encourage her onward.
“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.
e cry of grief, rage, and terror, was yet piercing the night, when the unhappy husband held
his breath for a response. ere was a scream, drowned immediately in a louder murmur of
voices, fading into far-oﬀ laughter, as the dark cloud swept away, leaving the clear and silent sky
above Goodman Brown. But something ﬂuttered lightly down through the air, and caught on the
branch of a tree. e young man seized it, and beheld a pink ribbon.
“My Faith is gone!” cried he, after one stupeﬁed moment. “
is but a name. Come, devil! for to thee is this world given.”
ere is no good on earth; and sin
maddened with despair, so that he laughed loud and long, did Goodman Brown grasp his
staﬀ and set forth again, at such a rate, that he seemed to ﬂy along the forest-path, rather than to
walk or run. e road grew wilder and drearier, and more faintly traced, and vanished at length,
leaving him in the heart of the dark wilderness, still rushing onward, with the instinct that guides
mortal man to evil. e whole forest was peopled with frightful sounds; the creaking of the trees,
the howling of wild beasts, and the yell of Indians; while, sometimes the wind tolled like a distant
church-bell, and sometimes gave a broad roar around the traveller, as if all Nature were laughing
him to scorn. But he was himself the chief horror of the scene, and shrank not from its other
Hawthorne, "Young Goodman Brown"
“Ha! ha! ha!” roared Goodman Brown, when the wind laughed at him. “Let us hear which
will laugh loudest! ink not to frighten me with your deviltry! Come witch, come wizard, come
Indian powow, come devil himself! and here comes Goodman Brown. You may as well fear him
as he fear you!”
In truth, all through the haunted forest, there could be nothing more frightful than the ﬁgure of
Goodman Brown. On he ﬂew, among the black pines, brandishing his staﬀ with frenzied gestures,
now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting forth such laughter, as
set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him. e ﬁend in his own shape is
less hideous, than when he rages in the breast of man. us sped the demoniac on his course,
until, quivering among the trees, he saw a red light before him, as when the felled trunks and
branches of a clearing have been set on ﬁre, and throw up their lurid blaze against the sky, at the
hour of midnight. He paused, in a lull of the tempest that had driven him onward, and heard the
swell of what seemed a hymn, rolling solemnly from a distance, with the weight of many voices.
He kn ...
Purchase answer to see full