Hawthorne uses heavy allegory to portray the idea that there is a very fine balance of good and evil in the word. The story begins when Goodman must say goodbye to his wife, Faith, to go on an errand. Faith tells Brown that she is not comfortable staying by herself and wished he would not go. However, Brown leaves without stating the purpose of the journey, yet the reader can infer that the reason is related to dark matters.
While on his way a figure, later identified as the Devil personified, accompanies him. The Devil insistently tries to coerce Brown into joining his group of converters. Despite numerous persuasive tactics, Brown refuses the Devil; until he thinks he hears Faith’s scream. Using the Devil’s staff, Brown is transported to the Devil's forest ceremony.
At the ceremony the fire lights the faces of good pious people in his community; the Deacon Gookin, Goody Cloyse, and others. Suddenly, he realizes that Faith is among them. As he tells her to resist the Devil and look towards the heavens, he is transported back through the forest alone.
The next morning, Brown returns to the village, unaware if what he experienced was real or a dream. He sees the same members of the community that were at the fire and cries out defaming them in wickedness. For the rest of his life he is changed, trusting no one, especially not his wife Faith.