Dreams play an important role in our lives. Dreams are an opportunity for us to experience a life with no limitations. However, not all dreams are meaningless fiction. Sometimes, a dream can be identical to everyday life. In some cases it is extremely difficult to tell the difference between a dream and reality. Throughout history, studies show that dreams provide an insight into one’s own self. Dreams can show us who we really are and what we want out of life by tapping into our subconscious mind. They have the ability to be inspirational, life changing, and revealing.
Certain aspects of the story “Young Goodman Brown” lead us to believe that he is merely dreaming. The fact is that Young Goodman Brown does have a life changing experience in the forest, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he was enduring it. It is learned throughout the story that Young Goodman Brown is a good Christian. After setting off on his journey he reconsiders his decision and tries to return home. Upon meeting the old man in the forest, Young Goodman Brown apologizes for being late by saying “Faith kept me back a while” (Hawthorne, 392).
By “Faith” our first instinct is to think of his wife trying to keep him from going. However, Young Goodman Brown is referring to not only his wife, but his faith as well. Being held back by faith is a sign that he is weary of this journey already. Young Goodman Brown also exclaims, “Too far, too far” (Hawthorne, 392) upon walking deeper into the forest. As he reflects on his father and grandfather being good people of prayer, he shows more resistance to this journey. It seems as though he only further travels because of pure curiosity.
One of the biggest hints however, that Young Goodman Brown is a good Christian is when he decides to travel no further and rests by the tree. Not only is this a hint of him being a good Christian, and sticking true to his beliefs, it also displays an opportunity for him to fall asleep. As Young Goodman Brown rests, he is glad he will have a clear conscious -especially for when he sees Deacon Gookin on his morning walk. It just so happens that after thinking that, he hears horses and the voice of Deacon Gookin.
Although it seems that Goodman Brown is hearing Deacon Gookin as he goes to the ceremony that is not the case. It is not said how much time passes between Goodman Brown beginning to rest, and his sighting of Deacon Gookin. Young Goodman Brown has already fallen asleep at this point, and Deacon Gookin is mentioned immediately because that is whom Goodman Brown thought of last, while awake. Goodman Brown has an experience with a dark cloud overhead and then sees his wife’s pink ribbon floating down.
At this point he thinks Faith has been unfaithful to him. In this story, the name Faith is very symbolic. Faith, his wife, is depicted in the beginning of the story has a good Christian and faithful. Faith was innocent, and would not be going to the meeting. Perhaps, subconsciously Goodman Brown actually viewed Faith as evil. Then, Young Goodman Brown grabs the staff, which the old man gave him, and traveled through the forest “at such a rate, that he seemed to fly along the forest path rather than to walk or run” (Hawthorne, 396).
When he got to the clearing surrounded by trees on fire, all he could see were the fire lit faces of respectable people in his community. Subconsciously, this is his vision of Hell. Goodman Brown thinks he sees his father beckoning him forward and his mother trying to hold him back. Young Goodman Brown realizes that he has been questioning his own faith and this part of the dream is basically the good (his mother) against the bad (his father) of his subconscious. Goodman Brown then sees Faith, who tells him look up to the heavens and resist the devil.
Goodman Brown looks up to the heavens and finds himself alone in the forest. It is now that he is waking up. Because his dream took place where he fell asleep, and was somewhat realistic… it was hard for him to distinguish the difference between that dream and his reality. One of the biggest aspects of this story that hints at him just dreaming is his arrival at Salem Village in the morning. In reality, no one has changed. In Goodman Brown’s eyes though, everyone is evil. Deacon Gookin and Goody Cloyse are carrying on their everyday activities, praying and bible study.
Because of that, there is no real reason to believe that Goodman Brown actually saw them at the nony. He is also unable to greet Faith. He is the only person who is acting differently in the morning; there is no hint of anyone else recalling any of the events of the night before. In conclusion, Young Goodman Brown questioned his own faith and had a terrible nightmare that caused him to question everyone else’s faith. He will no longer to believe the words of the minister, or trust his wife Faith. A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not desperate man did he become from the night of that fearful dream” (Hawthorne, 399).
His dream changed the way he lived, and saw everyone in his life. One final hint that points to Goodman Brown dreaming this entire experience is the word dream. It is used eight times throughout the story. The word dream is used in reference to Faith and faith. That word is used in an attempt to foreshadow and to drop hints to the audience that he is in fact dreaming.