All people have problems with the community in which they live. Their conflicts are either with the people or the ideas of the community. In the story Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne shows his main character having conflicts with his society. Young Goodman Brown, the main character, does not notice these problems until after his trip into the forest. The two questions that Hawthorne implies are why his character cannot adapt to the community and what conditions does the character not agree. Before Browns visit into the woods, he has no problem with his community; however, he becomes aware of the problems of his community after the encounter in the forest.
Being involved with ones community was very important during the time period. Goodman Browns community was very small, and everyone knew everyone. If one did not adapt to the ways of the society, then that person was shunned from it. Young Goodman Brown was well adapted to his community and was well known. The man that Brown encounters in the woods states, I have been as well acquainted with your family as with ever a one among the Puritans; and thats no trifle to say (265). This statement implies that the Browns are a popular family among this community. After meeting this strange man, Brown begins to witness some bizarre events. He notices many familiar people attend a devilish ceremony in the forest, and some of these figures are ones whom Goodman Brown has thought to be good and innocent.
The sentence either the sudden gleams of light flashing over the obscure field bedazzled Goodman Brown, or he recognized a score of the church members of Salem village famous for their especial sanctity (270) implies that the most holy people of the village are present at this ritual. Brown sees his mother, father, and his wife Faith. After seeing all of these people in the woods, he becomes very angry with his community. He now has to decide whether or not to join this group of evil beings. Since he chooses not to follow the group, he also chooses not to adapt to his community. The reason why he does not want to adapt is because he has been lied to his entire life. Some of the most respected people that Goodman Brown has looked up to are now involved with the devil. If Brown were to adjust to the community, he would destroy everything that he has lived for.
Besides not wanting to adapt to his community, Goodman Brown also dislikes the aspects of the village. He has found out that everyone in Salem Village is living a lie. The following morning he comes across many of the villagers who were present at the ceremony. He notices that the good old minister was taking a walk along the graveyard to get an appetite for breakfast and meditate his sermon, and bestowed a blessing, as he passed, on Goodman Brown; however, Goodman Brown shrank from the venerable saint as if to avoid an anathema (272). He also notices that Goody Cloyse, that excellent old Christian, stood in the early sunshine at her own lattice, catechizing a little girl, but Goodman Brown snatched away the child as from the grasp of the fiend himself (272). When Goodman Brown sees these people, he is upset that they have been living a lie. He does not even acknowledge his wife when she waves to him in the street. The aspect of the culture that Young Goodman Brown does not like is how the villagers pretend to be good, yet they are really evil inside.
The character in Nathaniel Hawthornes story is not content with the community that he lives in. After his strange encounter in the woods, he sees that everyone in the village is evil inside. He even finds out his family is apart of this group, and that is really upsetting. Young Goodman Brown will never be able to respect these people in his community after he has discovered their true identity.