Young Goodman Brown

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Faith, Goodman Brown’s young wife, initially seems like the embodiment of innocence, as symbolized by the pink ribbons in her cap. Goodman thinks that she is angelic and worthy of the name “Faith.” She complains of bad dreams and begs Goodman to stay at home. Goodman insists on leaving her, but in the forest, Goodman discovers that she, too, has been tempted by the devil to attend the satanic conversion ceremony. When Goodman returns to Salem the next morning, Faith greets him joyously, her pink ribbons untouched, and it is never made clear if Goodman dreamed the whole thing and Faith is still the pure woman he believed her to be, or if she really had been corrupted by the devil. Regardless, Goodman can’t respond to her affectionate welcome. She and Goodman live to old age and raise children and grandchildren, but he never regains his faith in her or in the community.

Faith Quotes in Young Goodman Brown

The Young Goodman Brown quotes below are all either spoken by Faith or refer to Faith. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Young Goodman Brown published in 2011.
Young Goodman Brown Quotes

"Dearest heart," whispered she, softly and rather sadly, when her lips were close to his ear, "pr'y thee, put off your journey until sunrise, and sleep in your own bed to-night. A lone woman is troubled with such dreams and such thoughts, that she's afeard of herself, sometimes. Pray, tarry with me this night, dear husband, of all nights in the year!"

Related Characters: Faith (speaker), Goodman Brown
Page Number: 193
Explanation and Analysis:

Faith's plea for Goodman Brown to stay with her instead of leaving on his journey introduces the moral conflict of the story. Goodman Brown can listen to his wife Faith (who also stands in for his religious faith) and remain in Salem, or he can journey into the woods. It's significant that the story begins with Goodman Brown in a conflict with Faith about his journey; this lets readers know that there are moral stakes to his journey, in that he seems to be leaving his wife (and, metaphorically, his religious faith) in peril by going.

Faith's insistence that she cannot be home alone with her thoughts and dreams is also significant, as it is a statement that reverberates throughout the story. For the Puritans, thoughts and dreams present real danger, and sin is not limited to a person's literal actions. Her statement might mean that Faith, whom Goodman Brown assumes is innocent and pure, is capable of imagining or dreaming the same experience of sin that Goodman Brown finds in the forest. This interpretation is strengthened by Faith's presence in the woods later that night, and by the narrator's speculation at the end of the story that Goodman Brown's experience in the woods might have been a nightmare or simply imagined. While this quotation seems rather innocuous at the beginning of the story, as Goodman Brown moves through the nightmarish woods it begins to take on a darkness that it did not originally possess, hinting that even Faith, the emblem of Puritan goodness, might herself be capable of sin. 

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"Methought as she spoke there was trouble in her face, as if a dream had warned her what work is to be done tonight. But no, no; 't would kill her to think it. Well, she's a blessed angel on earth; and after this one night I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to heaven."

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), Faith
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:

Throughout the story Goodman Brown becomes more and more suspicious of his Puritan community, and this quotation is the first inkling of the full-blown paranoia to come. Goodman Brown entertains for a moment the possibility that Faith could have learned from a sinful dream the purpose of his journey into the woods, but he then dismisses the thought. He states that it is impossible because it "would kill her to think it," implying that she is too pure and good to suspect such a thing. 

In the context of the story as a whole, this quote points to both Goodman Brown's black-and-white worldview that one must be either wholly a saint or wholly a sinner, and also to his own delusions about himself. While he seems to believe that Faith can only be good and that even an inkling of sin would kill her, he simultaneously believes that he himself can dabble in sin on this journey without fundamentally changing himself. He believes that after one night of sin he can return to Salem and be good for the rest of his life, ultimately following Faith to heaven. This conflict between Goodman Brown's worldview and who he perceives himself to be is one that the story will disastrously resolve.

"You are late, Goodman Brown," said he. "The clock of the Old South was striking, as I came through Boston; and that is full fifteen minutes agone."
"Faith kept me back awhile," replied the young man, with a tremor in his voice, caused by the sudden appearance of his companion, though not wholly unexpected.

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), The Devil (speaker), Faith
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:

This quotation serves to make clear, if it wasn't already, the double meaning of Faith's name. When Goodman Brown tells the man that Faith kept him back awhile, he means not simply his wife but also his religious faith, which has caused him to doubt whether he should continue into the woods. Any instance in which Faith's name or person appears in "Young Goodman Brown" can be read with this double meaning.

The woods have been presented so far as frightening and dangerous, and the devil's appearance in the woods cements Goodman Brown's inkling that the woods are full of sin. As the story progresses, though, it becomes clear that evil is not limited to the woods. This is foreshadowed in this quotation when the devil indicates that he has just been in Boston, an orderly and pious city that is, like Salem, full of good Puritans. Just as the devil is not only found in the woods, Goodman Brown is destined to learn that evil and sin are not limited to the woods; wickedness pervades even the town of Salem, a place which Goodman Brown believed to be pure. 

“What if a wretched old woman do choose to go to the devil when I thought she was going to heaven: is that any reason why I should quit my dear Faith and go after her?"

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), Faith, The Devil, Goody Cloyse
Page Number: 198
Explanation and Analysis:
At this point in the story, Faith's presumed purity and morality are the only things keeping Goodman Brown from giving himself over to the devil. Despite all the hypocrisy that the devil has revealed (Goodman Brown's family's association with the devil, the community's secret sins, and even his own ability to resist sin), Goodman Brown is still clinging to the last scraps of his faith. It is notable here that Goodman Brown is speaking of "quitting" Faith his wife, rather than faith his religion. In this moment of trying to resist the devil, Goodman Brown is appealing to another person, rather than to his God or his own internal moral convictions. The Puritan tendency to locate faith in the seeming goodness of other people rather than in knowing the self to be virtuous is in evidence here.

"My Faith is gone!" cried he, after one stupefied moment. "There is no good on earth; and sin is but a name. Come, devil; for to thee is this world given."

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), Faith, The Devil
Page Number: 200
Explanation and Analysis:

Once Goodman Brown believes that Faith has gone to the devil, he no longer has the strength to resist wickedness, and he literally (though this is a play on words) loses his faith. This points to the fact that Goodman Brown's faith is something that depends on the behavior of others, rather than something that comes from within himself. This also points to the extremism of his ideology: that after seeing that several members of his community have sinned, he believes that "there is no good on earth." Outside of Puritanism, this logic would be absurd, but the black-and-white, good vs. evil logic of Puritanism drives him to a despairing conclusion about the nature of the world. Indeed, he is driven to so much despair that he declares that "sin is but a name." By this he implies that to call something sinful is meaningless, since sin is the natural condition of the world. 

"There," resumed the sable form, "are all whom ye have reverenced from youth. Ye deemed them holier than yourselves, and shrank from your own sin, contrasting it with their lives of righteousness and prayerful aspirations heavenward. Yet here are they all in my worshipping assembly.”

Related Characters: The Devil (speaker), Goodman Brown, Faith
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:
This is a quite literal statement of the hypocrisy of Puritanism. The devil tells the congregated townspeople that those in the community who were considered most pure, those who were considered to be the moral examples of the town, have, in fact, been living lives of sin. This is intended to upend Goodman Brown's faith and worldview, as the devil understands that Goodman Brown's faith has not given him strong personal moral convictions. Instead, his faith is based on comparing himself to the upright appearances of people in his community and maintaining the appearance of being good himself. Because this faith exists only relative to others, the devil can easily challenge it by revealing to Goodman Brown (or by appearing to reveal to him) that his community is full of hypocrites and sinners.

By the blaze of the hell-kindled torches, the wretched man beheld his Faith, and the wife her husband, trembling before that unhallowed altar.

Related Characters: Goodman Brown, Faith
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

This ushers in the climax of the story in which Goodman Brown's worst fear, that Faith is impure, is realized. Until this moment he has not physically glimpsed her, and could thus hold out hope that Puritan ideals were still pure in at least one person he respects. Because his faith is so tied to his illusions about his pure community (rather than self-knowledge of goodness and a personal conviction to be good) this revelation about Faith marks the foreclosing of the last possibility for Goodman Brown to maintain idealism about Puritanism. This cements for him the notion that family and community are not to be trusted. 

It is also significant that the red light in which he glimpses Faith and the other members of his community is described as a "blaze of hell-kindled torches." This is another instance of Hawthorne's blending the natural with the supernatural and with evil. The fact that Goodman Brown has seen Faith literally in the light of hell raises questions about what he has actually seen. Is his Puritanism causing him to see her sin in "the worst light" rather than having a nuanced understanding of the complexity of her character and morality? Or has he been tricked by the supernatural into seeing something that doesn't exist? This statement is ambiguous, but it certainly gives readers reason to be suspicious of what Goodman Brown believes he is seeing.

“Depending upon one another's hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream. Now are ye undeceived. Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome again, my children, to the communion of your race.”

Related Characters: The Devil (speaker), Goodman Brown, Faith
Page Number: 204
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the devil plays to the black-and-white distinctions made between good and evil people in Puritanism. While it might be possible to attend such a gathering and understand that the people there have sinned but are not necessarily wholly evil, Goodman Brown and the devil subscribe to a much more extreme division of people, as is evident here. Since Goodman Brown has glimpsed his young wife consorting with the devil, he is susceptible to the devil's pronouncement that "evil is the nature of mankind," an extreme statement by any logic except that of Puritanism. 

This passage also speaks to the way that Puritanism externalizes faith, as believers derive their own faith from the appearance of virtue in those around them. The devil refers to the community having depended on "one another's hearts" in order to "hope that virtue were not all a dream." In this way, the devil's words suggest that if the Puritans had a more internalized sense of morality and virtue they would be able to look inside themselves and understand goodness, which would make them able to resist the cynicism inspired by seeing their community sin. Of course, this kind of internalized faith is unlikely by Puritan logic, since everyone is tempted by sin, and the strict Puritan division between wholly good and wholly bad means that if virtue came from within then everyone would know that they were not wholly virtuous. This whole story functions as a critique of the logical end of such a pattern of belief.

"Faith! Faith!" cried the husband, "look up to heaven, and resist the wicked one."

Related Characters: Goodman Brown (speaker), Faith, The Devil
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

While Goodman Brown has been unable to resist the devil up to this point, seeing his cherished Faith by the side of the devil gives him the strength to attempt to resist in the form of begging her not to give herself to the devil. In the context of the story, this is a tragic moment in which he has stood up to sin too late. Even though he ultimately resists the devil, which leaves him alone in the forest and subsequently lonely for the rest of his life, he has already been infected by the cynicism and misery of evil. He has, even though he seems to be standing up for it, already lost his faith. It is important to note that Hawthorne writes "cried the husband" rather than "said Goodman Brown." This seems to imply that Goodman Brown may not be standing up for his own moral beliefs, which are, by this point, dashed, but rather he seems to be standing up for the sanctity of family. He is speaking not as an individual, but as an embodiment of the role of the husband protecting his wife. 

Goodman Brown continues to make similar hollow gestures throughout the remainder of the story. He is described as living out his days following Puritan tradition without his heart in it; he still goes to church and raises a Puritan family, but he himself does not believe, and being around the Puritans whom he knows (or believes) to be hypocritical means that the religious gestures torment him.

Turning the corner by the meeting-house, he spied the head of Faith, with the pink ribbons, gazing anxiously forth, and bursting into such joy at sight of him that she skipped along the street and almost kissed her husband before the whole village. But Goodman Brown looked sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting.

Related Characters: Goodman Brown, Faith
Related Symbols: Faith’s pink ribbons
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

Goodman Brown has now fled the forest and returned to the orderly and pious town of Salem, but he cannot forget what he saw, and he can no longer separate in his mind the goodness of Salem from the evil of the woods. While he seems to be returning to Faith (and to his religious faith), he cannot embrace either after what he has seen. 

That Faith is at home unperturbed with her pink ribbons intact (Goodman Brown saw them fall in the woods) makes us question whether or not Goodman Brown truly saw what he believed he saw. He and Faith met each other's eyes in the woods, but Faith seems either undisturbed by or unaware of this meeting. As Goodman Brown cannot speak with her about his experience (as his family did not speak with him about theirs), he is left wordlessly suspecting her. Her innocence and joy could mean either that she is truly a sinner who is unbothered by having witnessed her husband in the woods, or Goodman Brown has dreamed/imagined the whole encounter, and Faith is not such a wicked sinner. Goodman Brown decides to occupy the space in between, remaining with Faith in name, but feeling his family and his faith to be ultimately empty. 

And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave a hoary corpse, followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grandchildren, a goodly procession, besides neighbors not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone, for his dying hour was gloom.

Related Characters: Goodman Brown, Faith
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

This is an ominous end to a dark story in that Goodman Brown has never recovered from his experience, and, furthermore, he has not broken with the hypocritical and damaging Puritan tradition that led him to his doom. This implies that his children and grandchildren will have similar experiences and struggles. The ending, in which we see a preview of generations of struggle, cements Hawthorne's dark view of the endless and damaging logic of Puritanism, in which people are not able to be honest with themselves or with each other about their temptations and sins, and they are thus not able to find joy and morality within their own hearts.

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Faith Character Timeline in Young Goodman Brown

The timeline below shows where the character Faith appears in Young Goodman Brown. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Young Goodman Brown
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
...he leans his head back inside to kiss his wife goodbye as she, “aptly” named Faith, leans out toward the street to embrace him. Faith is wearing a cap adorned with... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
Faith pleads with Goodman Brown not to leave her alone all night and instead to set... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
...walking along on his way, Goodman Brown feels a crushing sense of guilt over leaving Faith, not just because she begged him to stay and comfort her, but because it looked... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Goodman Brown resolves, after this one night, to stand by Faith after tonight and someday “follow her to heaven.” This promise to himself comforts him, and... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
...the sudden appearance of the man (even though such a meeting wasn’t entirely unexpected), that “Faith kept me back awhile.” (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
...Finally, Goodman Brown argues that he can’t go with the man because it would break Faith’s heart. The man agrees that he wouldn’t want Faith to come to any harm, and... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
...and refuses to continue, saying that Goody Cloyse’s hypocritical example can’t make him abandon his Faith. Unworried, the devil leaves Goodman Brown the maple staff to use if he decides to... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...people of Salem, both the holy and the unholy ones, and he recognizes his wife Faith’s sorrowful, pleading voice. The voices go away, then come back. The other voices seem to... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
...with despair, losing all hope that there is good on earth, Goodman Brown exclaims, “My Faith is gone!” He calls for the devil and then grasps the devil’s maple staff and... (full context)
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Nature and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
...tells them to look at each other. Goodman Brown recognizes the woman beside him as Faith. The narrator describes them as husband and wife trembling before the altar. All the assembled... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
...teaching a girl the catechism, and Goodman Brown snatches the girl away. Finally, he sees Faith, still wearing her pink ribbons. She runs up to him joyfully and almost kisses him... (full context)
The Hypocrisy of Puritanism Theme Icon
Losing Faith and Innocence Theme Icon
Saints vs. Sinners Theme Icon
Family and Individual Choice Theme Icon
...listening parish would all be destroyed. He often woke up at midnight and shrank from Faith beside him in bed, and when his family prayed together at morning or at night,... (full context)