Setting plays a major role in Goodman Brown’s journey to losing his faith. It gives a strong foundation to cause him to doubt what he has always believed in. Once he leaves his wife at the beginning of the story, he goes into a dark and scary forest at night.
No normal human being would go into such a place alone at night if there was no reason to. The forest contains plants and animals, but it is not full of life. It is a dull and dead place to lose oneself and sever contact with the outside world.
Only evil could come out of such a place. Nathaniel Hawthorne shows us that the forest is no place for God, religion, or prayer by saying: “He gazed upward…and had lifted his hands to pray, a cloud, though no wind was stirring, hurried across the zenith, and hid the brightening stars. The Blue sky was still visible, except directly overhead (342).”Nathaniel Hawthorne also uses symbolism to illustrate the loss of faith and start of doubt with the pink ribbons that belong to Faith. When the couple say goodbye as the journey into the forest begins, she is wearing the pink ribbons.
They are very happy and everything is perfect between them. However, once Goodman Brown realizes that his beloved wife is taking part in rituals that he is against, he discovers “something fluttered lightly down through the air, and caught on the branch of a tree. The young man seized it and beheld a pink ribbon (343).” This pink ribbon tells Goodman Brown that he has possibly lost everything. Hawthorne illustrates how Young Goodman Brown begins to lose his faith and starts to doubt everyone and everything around him because nothing is as he thought it was.
This story certainly opens the eyes of the audience to acknowledge the fact that although they may think they know everything, some things are not as they seem to be. Moreover, Hawthorne illustrates to his audience that even those who you may think are the closest people to you, may actually be the farthest from you.