There are many ways to examine "Young Goodman Brown," but the history of the author and the setting of the story play important roles in its interpretation. Unlike many other fictional works, "Young Goodman Brown" has a direct relation to historical people and major events. For instance, some critics assume the story to have taken place around 1691 due the appearance of Goody Close and Martha Carrier, both of whom were tried and convicted of witchcraft the following year during the Salem Witch Trials . Many critics use "Young Goodman Brown's" historical context to show why Hawthorne chooses to make Young Goodman Brown's journey appear as a possible dream.
Unlike many other fictional works, "Young Goodman Brown" makes a direct relation between historical people and events. For instance, the appearance of Goody Close and Martha Carrier places the story around 1691 because they were both tried and convicted of witchcraft the following year during the Salem Witch Trials. The author is able to use the reader's assumption that Goody Close and Martha Carrier are innocent to further play on Young Goodman Brown's delusion and to support the belief that he may be dreaming. Furthermore, the author and the main character in the story share similar family backgrounds. Like Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne's paternal ancestors also participated in the persecution of witches. However, in his stories, Hawthorne portrays the Salem outburst as a delusion in which innocent people died wrongfully. (Joseph P. Mondugno, The Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 and "Young Goodman Brown").
Micheal E. McCabe compares Young Goodman Brown's experience to Puritan teachings in "The Consequences of Puritan Depravity and Distrust as Historical Context for Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown." The author begins by referring to Young Goodman Brown's journey as a "conversion experience" which, ironically, a religious conversion is the ultimate sign of faith and election.