In the woods, Goodman Brown hears a multitude of familiar voices coming from a cloud high above him. He can hear these voices all urging some lamenting young woman onward. These are the voices of people that he knows to be sinners, as well as the voices of people he believed were saints up until now. When he sees one of his wife's pink ribbons flutter down to him through the air, he fears that his "Faith is gone!" and feels that "There is no good on earth" anymore. He begins to race forward toward the witches's meeting through the forest. The narrator says that,
In truth, all through the haunted forest, there could be nothing more frightful than the figure of Goodman Brown. On he flew, among the black pines, brandishing his staff with frenzied gestures, now giving vent to an inspiration of horrid blasphemy, and now shouting forth such laughter, as set all the echoes of the forest laughing like demons around him. The fiend in his own shape is less hideous, than when he rages in the breast of man.
In short, Goodman Brown becomes the most frightening and sinful creature, even more frightening than the devil himself. In fact, as the narrator claims, the devil is actually less frightening than a man who has embraced sin. When one encounters the devil, one knows what to expect. Of course the devil loves sin and loves to tempt men to sin.
However, a person—like Brown, or like Goody Cloyse, or the minister, or the deacon—can hide their real, sinful nature and pretend to be sinless. In doing so, they might sin themselves without suspicion, or even counsel others to sin, winning more converts in this way. The devil seems to recruit them to do his bidding for this reason and purpose. Thus, it is Goodman Brown who becomes the most villainous when he allows himself to become the "chief horror of the scene and [shrinks] not from its other horrors."