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The characters Goodman Brown sees on his journey through the forest and his experience at the black Sabbath are what cause his faith to wane. When Goodman Brown is initially approached by the dark figure in the forest and is told he is late, Goodman Brown replies, "Faith kept me back awhile" (141). Again the name of his wife symbolizes Goodman Brown's own faith and shows he had to compromise it to even start into the forest. Goodman Brown sees many characters making their way toward the meeting place and is surprised to see that many of them are people of great stature, both in the religious and governmental society. Here, Hawthorne shows that all people are sinners no matter how they may appear outwardly or what position they hold in society. First, Goodman Brown sees Goody Cloyse. She is described by Hawthorne as "a very pious and exemplary dame" (142). Goodman Brown cannot believe Goody Cloyse would be out in the dark forest because she had taught him his catechism. The catechism is the initial schooling of the Bible in the Christian religion. This suggests Goodman Brown's faith is beginning to weaken because seeing Goody Cloyse shows the foundation of his faith is weak. Although Goodman Brown attempts to keep his good faith when he sees the town minister and Deacon Gookin, he shows his faith is weakened when he "caught hold of a tree, for support, being ready to sink down on the ground, faint and overburthened with the sickness of his heart" (144). When he finds the pink ribbon of his wife in the forest, Goodman Brown's faith is weakened even further. Again Goodman Brown's wife is used as a symbol of his own faith: "'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'" (145). At the black mass, Goodman Brown is astonished at the number of people he sees. And even though they are people he once recognized as God-fearing church members and respected members of the town, he sees they are actually sinners, and he describes them as "'A grave and dark-clad company'" (146). He asks himself, "'But where is Faith'" (146). He now believes there is no good in the world but only evil, and his faith is almost completely destroyed.
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After Goodman Brown returns from the forest, he has little faith left, and this causes him to see everything in his environment as evil, sinful, and hypocritical. The preacher at the pulpit, Goody Cloyse teaching the catechism, Faith's expressions of love toward him, and everything else that Goodman Brown held with high esteem seem to have become worthless. Goodman Brown shows he has some faith by attending church, but he only feels the wretchedness of the congregation's sinfulness and hypocrisy: "On the Sabbath day, when the congregation were singing a holy psalm, he could not listen, because an anthem of sin rushed loudly upon his ear, and drowned all the blessed strain" (148). When Hawthorne writes, "Often, awaking suddenly at midnight, he shrank from the bosom of Faith" (148), again, the name of Goodman Brown's wife is used as a reference to Goodman Brown's faith. This passage suggests Goodman Brown still has some faith remaining but his knowledge of the darkness in the world causes him to once again withdraw from the rest of the world. Even though he lives a long life with Faith and has children and grand-children, it is apparent Goodman Brown never loses his spitefulness toward society and the evil in the world, "for his dying hour was gloom" (148).