The Evil Assembly
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
The assembly in "Young Goodman Brown" doesn't have a "Devils Welcome!" sign posted at the entrance. But it's got the next best thing: a couple of big, blazing pine trees. It's a nice image—a reminder that wild nature (pines) and sheer devilishness (fire) often coexist in "Young Goodman Brown."
But there's more that's symbolically important here. Lots more.
The evil assembly has its own altar, its own sacramental basin, and its own preacher. Those burning pines are even a bit like church candles. What we're seeing here is a dark parody of Christian ritual. The evil folk in "Young Goodman Brown" aren't lawless and leaderless. Like a church congregation, they have certain authorities that they obey, and certain rituals that make them increasingly united and empowered.