The Fall of Man
“Young Goodman Brown” functions as an allegory of the fall of man, from which Hawthorne draws to illustrate what he sees as the inherent fallibility and hypocrisy in American religion. Hawthorne sets up a story of a man who is tempted by the devil and succumbs because of his curiosity and the weakness of his faith. Like Eve in the book of Genesis, Goodman Brown cannot help himself from wanting to know what lies behind the mystery of the forest. And like Eve, Goodman Brown is rewarded for his curiosity with information that changes his life for the worse. In the course of the ceremony in the forest, the devil tells Goodman Brown and Faith that their eyes will now be opened to the wickedness of themselves and those around them. Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden and forced to undergo all the trials and tribulations of being human, and Goodman Brown returns from the forest to find that the joy in life has been taken away from him. He has become suspicious of those around him, even the woman he once loved.