Young Goodman Brown

by: Nathaniel Hawthorne

Important Quotations Explained

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

This passage, in which Goodman Brown gives up on trying to resist the devil’s temptations, takes up the devil’s staff, and makes his way toward the ceremony, appears about a third of the way into the story. It suggests that some of the shame and horror Goodman Brown feels when he returns to Salem Village may come from his feeling of weakness at having succumbed to evil. Goodman Brown resists the devil while he still believes that various members of his family and community are godly, but when he is shown, one by one, that they are all servants of the devil, he gives in to his dark side completely and grabs the devil’s staff. The change that comes over him after either waking up from his dream or returning from the ceremony can be explained partially by his shame at having fallen so quickly and dramatically into evil.