We no longer know what ‘reality’ is for young Goodman Brown, and we are left to our own devices when deciding whether his meeting the demon-witch-thing actually happened. Perhaps it was just a dream, perhaps it was a sign from God warning him that he is straying from the path of faith and light. Perhaps it actually occurred and was a providential sign whether a dream or a reality, it was only bad for Goodman Brown. He had seen something that could put him in a place of the question when push came to shove being during the time of the witch trials. Even if it was only a dream, nothing good would come after seeing it.
If his visions come out of his own dreams, then I believe that it tells us that he has mental problems and that he is going lunatic over his holy beliefs.
Goodman brown is round, Brown believes that ‘what you see is what you get.’ He never thinks to search beneath the surface of things and takes everyone at face value. When he finds that people in his community, as well as his own ancestors, have been ‘in league with the devil,’ he is devastated. (It may not be that they served the devil at all, but that they have ‘sinned’ in general.) Believing the best of everyone, to begin with, is not Brown’s mistake, but it is found in his belief that others’ mistakes make them evil. Goodman Brown lacks faith in his fellowman. His short-sightedness blinds him to the good that there is in the people around him. The reader does not know if what Brown saw in the woods was a dream or not—once again, however, he believes what he sees without question. People have disappointed him because they are not perfect, and unlike the precepts of his faith, he can find no way to forgive them. He alienates himself from his wife as well as the rest of the community. Brown is hypocritical. He judges Faith because of what he believes he saw her doing in the forest; but what about his journey? He walked along with the devil. He was at the black mass as best as he can tell. Yet he comes home with no explanation as to where he has been; however, Faith does not judge him or ask any questions, but welcomes him with love. Brown is unchristian-like in his behavior as he rejects others—and he misses the point that Jesus trafficked with sinners all the time, but Brown has no time for those who are imperfect. Brown thinks that he is perfect. Had he paid attention to the teachings of the Bible, which he is so quick to hold others to, he would remember no man is perfect. Hawthorne presents sin as an inescapable part of human nature. In the story, Young Goodman Brown perceives that he is better than everyone else: other people have sinned, but not he.