The story is about a man named, Young Goodman Brown, who is a man of little faith. He is tempted by the evil and eventually succumbs because his curiosity is too strong and in his weakness in faith. Goodman Brown can’t help himself from wanting to know what lies behind the forest. What Brown encountered was not what he expected, because he discovers that his ancestors were in league with the devil. Brown then decides that he might as well do the same. He also doesn’t treat the townspeople and his wife, Faith, the same. He sees them as hypocrites. What Hawthorne is suggesting is that there is a danger of basing a society on moral principles. Religious faith lies in the fact that members of the society do not arrive at their own moral decisions. When they copy the beliefs of the people around them, their faith becomes weak and rootless. The allegory in Young Goodman Brown is the fall of man, from which Hawthorne sees as hypocrisy of American religion. Young Goodman Browns abstract ideas would be that he saw an Indian, the devil, and a witch. He also saw other townspeople, including a minister, and his wife, Faith worshiping the devil around a fire. When he gets out of the forest he sees everyone in town as evil, including Faith. He also sees evil within himself, because he had left Faith home alone so he can walk through the forest. What Young Goodman Brown doesn’t realize is that not everyone is evil. The larger theme behind Hawthornes’ writing is once you abandon one’s own Christian faith, even for an evening, it is hard to turn back. If you take this story as a dream, another theme about this story could be the idea of innocence to experience.
I believe it is Hawthornes’ purpose to teach a lesson in this story. I say this because, before Brown went into the woods he had some faith, but as he went further into them his curiosity of the devil got the better of him. This curiosity made him lose his faith in himself and with those around him. I believe the lesson is the more you lose faith, the harder it is to resist temptation. I also believe Hawthorne is making a point here about the dangers of unconsidered, self-righteous faith and the intolerance and cruelty to which it can lead.
When he gets out of the forest, he doesn’t know if it was a dream or reality, but I believe the devil was sending Brown a false vision, rather than it being a dream, of the many good people around him engaged in a terrible ritual, he plants the seeds of suspicion and doubt in the young man's mind. Brown returns to his village believing he has rejected the devil, but he has in fact embraced him. His relationships with both the good people of his town and with God have been spoiled forever.
The Birthmark is about a man named Alymer and his wife, Georgianna. Alymer is a man of science and he is very proficient in Philosophy. Alymer is also a man that is obsessed with physical beauty. Georgianna is a beautiful woman with one flaw according to Alymer. That flaw would be a small, crimson, hand print on her cheek, which is a birthmark. Alymer becomes obsessed with removing this birthmark that he gets blinded with the beauty that is already in front of him. The beauty would be his wife, Georgianna, but Alymer believes the birthmark to be a symbol of his wife's liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death. Although she says that the birthmark is like a charm, Alymer says it is the sign of the devil. In the end the birthmark was removed, but at the cost of Georgianna’s life. I believe the allegory to be that beauty is in the eye of the beholder not science. I say this, because Alymer believes that science will make Georgianna beautiful without flaws, when in fact science has nothing to do with beauty.