Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the most brilliant writers of the 19th century. His prominent work "Young Goodman Brown," first published in 1835, contains many figurative elements which have a profound effect on the story. One of the effects playing a major role is the setting employed in the story which is predominantly used to create ambiguity. The narrator succeeds in contrasting the historical context and the environment in a way that suggests multiple meanings. .
Hawthorne arouses the following associations by choosing "Salem Village" (65) in the heart of the Puritan North England as the home of Young Goodman Brown. The town is not only known for its witch trials in 1692, a series of executions of people accused of witchcraft, among them also Sarah Cloyse and Martha Corey, mentioned in the story as "Goody Cloyse" (68) and "Goody Cory" (68) and its hostility towards the Quakers, a religious group imprisoned, tortured and even executed by the puritans, but also for the involvement of its puritan residents in King Philip's war. The devil claiming that he has helped Young Goodman Brown's grandfather "when he lashed [a] Quaker woman through the streets of Salem" (67) and his father "to set fire on an Indian village, in King Philip's war" (68) is the occasion when we learn that Goodman Brown's ancestors played a key role in these events in Salem village. The attentive reader may recognize this as an indication to Hawthorne himself whose ancestors mirror these actions in a similar way in their actual lives. .
Conversely to the less mentioned historical background of Salem, the protagonist's view of the village and his home are mostly correlated with positive imagery in the beginning of the story and are set in stark contrast with the forest.