Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, "Young Goodman Brown," conforms to the model of a hero's quest. The story contains many aspects of a heroic quest. Hawthorne, known as one of America's greatest authors, wrote short stories and novels from about 1825-1860. His works are noted for their psychological probing into human nature, especially its darker side. Hawthorne wrote "Young Goodman Brown" in 1835. (World 118) Goodman Brown, the main character in the story, is the hero. As commonly done in a hero's quest, Goodman Brown leaves his known home in Salem village and travels an unknown road in a dark forest in the middle of the night and is faced with obstacles. He has to decide whether he will continue his journey or turn back and not learn the truth about himself and those around him.
A few aspects of the hero's quest include the following: the hero endures, the hero has a goal, and he has a guide. (Stillman 32,37,39) Goodman Brown endures in this story by continuing to go deeper and deeper into the forest no matter what the consequences may be. He does this because he has a goal that he will do whatever it takes to succeed at. His goal is to find out the truth about people. Goodman Brown meets his guide as he walks through the dark forest and is startled by a traveler on the road holding a dark, twisted staff. Brown needs a guide because his way isn't clear to him. He doesn't know the truth about his fellow townspeople and wants to learn the truth so badly that he is willing to leave behind everything he has ever known, go into the dark forest without any direction, and let the devil be his guide. The devil leads the way and tells Goodman a little bit about his ancestors and which direction he should go. (Dover 24-34) Heroes are also commonly faced with decisions. In the beginning of the story, Goodman Brown is faced with the decision of whether to stay home with his wife, Faith, or take off on his journey.