What is Goodman Brown's faith in the story "Young Goodman Brown"?Why do readers say he has lost his faith (his faith is Puritanism or humanity)?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" is a criticism of Calvinism as the sanctimonious, but ingenuous, Goodman loses his faith in the precepts of Puritanism through his discovery that Goody Cloyse, Deacon Godkin, and the "good old minister" are in league with Satan.  Indeed, his Calvinistic Puritanism is diabolical, rather than divine.

Initially, the naive Goodman Brown is convinced that he is secure in his faith in a Calvinistically defined God.  He ventures forth away from home on business for just one night after which he vows to "cling to [Faith's ] skirts" and follow her to heaven.  However, he is intercepted and deceived by his "fellow-traveler" whose staff resembles a serpent. This traveler claims to be well acquainted with relatives of Brown's and others in the Puritan community:

"I have a very general acquaintance here in New England.  The deacons of many a church have drunk the communion wine with me...."

Then, Goodman witnesses Goody Cloyse and Deacon Godkin speaking of how they will take into communion a nice young man. Moreover, as he discovers his wife Faith at the black mass, Goodman becomes completely disillusioned and cries out to her. He hears "the figure" say,

"Evil is the nature of humankind.  Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome again, my children, to the communion of your race."

Young Goodman Brown's faith in Puritanism is an illusion that Puritanism protects him from the evil of the world. Exposed to the extent of this Calvinistic "depravity of man," Goodman suffers from "misery unutterable" as he learns Puritanism's terrible significance.  Like Adam, Goodman Brown suffers a great fall from innocence. 

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Young Goodman Brown

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