Since Nathaniel Hawthorne has a reputation for ambiguity, intentionally leaving his stories ambiguous and open-ended, this posting considers the following interpretations:
Is Young Goodman Brown's journey into the forest an evil dream (perhaps inspired by the devil)?
Is his journey a dream vision telling him the truth about human nature?
Is his journey a symbolic acting out of his own paranoid fears and suspicions about others?
Is his journey a symbolic acting out of his own sinful nature, his secret inclination toward evil?
Is Hawthorne's vision of evil in this story a re-creation of a historical cycle that his generation had left behind? Or is it his own view?
As you look for meaning in "Young Goodman Brown" (pages 293-302, you might use some of these ideas to guide you:
It is evident that his journey is a dream vision telling him the truth about human nature. Please note how dream elements permeate his experience. The grim figure seems to symbolize the devil as he lures Goodman deeper into the woods to witness a demonic ritual by Salem's hypocritical "Christian" members. This dream teaches about human nature and how evil and hypocritical people can be.
These details further show the story's theme of retribution for contact with the devil or his evil ways. Other critics see the ...
This posting uncovers basic theories about the Young Goodman Brown piece, including an assessment of his journey. References are provided in this 400 word solution.