The Dark Minister
Did you think the "traveler with the staff" was a confusing character?
Meet the Dark Minister. Who is he? What is he doing? Why is he so creepy? Your guess is as good as our.
Okay, we actually do have some ideas. Check it out: this guy is described as an "apparition" that has "no slight similitude, both in garb and manner, to some grave divine of the New-England churches" (59). This is one of those descriptions that raises way more questions than it answers. Is this guy really a New England minister, or is he only disguised as one? Is this the same guy as the "traveler with the staff?" Where did the "traveler with the staff" go, anyway?
But when you think about it, it makes sense that he commands the nighttime assembly that young Goodman Brown stumbles into. In a world where everything is upside-down (cue Don LaFontaine's voice), obviously the holy guy is the most evil. This "apparition" has taken over the role of guidance and authority that the "traveler with the staff" possessed earlier in the story. And young Goodman Brown, "by the sympathy of all that was wicked in his heart," obeys that authority (61).