"Young Goodman Brown" is an 1835 short story by Nathaniel Hawathorne set in 17th century New England. The story critiques elements of Puritanism's cynicism and belief in predestination. Goodman Brown leaves his wife Faith to journey through the woods. There he meets a mysterious man who eventually leads him to a witches' sabbath where he and Faith are to be initiated. He pleas to God and is freed. Though he is unsure whether the experience was a dream, he is forever cynical and disillusioned.
Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories most often concern the hypocrisy of religion as opposed to the purity of true spirituality. These morality tales, which range from a parable about the dangers of vanity to an eerie tale of a demonic ceremony in which a young husband discovers that even his wife is sinful at heart, convey a Gothic sensibility, and often leave the reader unsure of what is real and what is imagined. Major themes include religion, sin, doom, and fear.