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Young Goodman Brown

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In the interval of silence he stole forward until the light glared full upon his eyes. At one extremity of an open space, hemmed in by the dark wall of the forest, arose a rock, bearing some rude, natural resemblance either to an alter or a pulpit, and surrounded by four blazing pines, their tops aflame, their stems untouched, like candles at an evening meeting. The mass of foliage that had overgrown the summit of the rock was all on fire, blazing high into the night and fitfully illuminating the whole field. Each pendent twig and leafy festoon was in a blaze. As the red light arose and fell, a numerous congregation alternately shone forth, then disappeared in shadow, and again grew, as it were, out of the darkness, peopling the heart of the solitary woods at once. "A grave and dark-clad company," quoth Goodman Brown. In truth they were such.

The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature
Allegorical short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1835 in New England Magazine and collected in Mosses From An Old Manse (1846). Considered an outstanding tale of witchcraft, it concerns a young Puritan who ventures into the forest to meet with a stranger. It soon becomes clear that he is approaching a witches' Sabbath; he views with horror prominent members of his community participating in the ceremonies. Ultimately Brown is led to a flaming altar where he sees his wife, Faith. He cries out to her to "resist" and suddenly finds himself alone among the trees. He returns home but loses forever his faith in goodness or piety.

Card catalog description
A nocturnal journey with the devil and a strange vision in the forest lead Goodman Brown to regard his fellow townspeople as devil worshipers.



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