In "Young Goodman Brown," why is it significant that Hawthrone names Goodman Brown's wife "Faith"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brown's wife having been named Faith is very significant since Hawthorne's story has been classified as an allegory of man's loss of faith.  As an allegory "Young Goodman Brown" represents abstract concepts such as faith, innocence, or evil. The settings, objects, and characters in this allegory stand for ideas or qualities beyond themselves. 

Faith, Goodman Brown's wife, for instance, represents innocence.  Brown in his sanctimonious complacency believes himself one of the "elect" of the Puritan community, able to walk with the devil spiritually unscathed.  Of course, on this night he literally and figuratively leaves Faith.

Once Goodman accompanies the devilish old man who resembles his grandfather into the foreboding forest where Goodman witnesses the Black Mass attended by his former catechism teacher and the deacon of the church, Brown discovers that his wife is one of the proselytes at this Satanic service.  That Faith is lost to the devil in this scene is symbolic of Brown's having abandoned his own faith.  For, after

this dream of evil omen...A stern, a sad, adarly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man did he become from the night of that fearful dream.

At the Black mass the devil tells the proselytes that virtue is a dream:

Evil is the nature of mankind.  Evil must be your only happiness.  welcome again, my children, to the communion of your race.

After leaving his wife and his Faith, Goodman Brown felt a loathful brotherhood by the sympahy of all that was wicked in his heart.

Ironically, Faith remains constant.  With her innocent pink ribbons still intact, she runs

bursting into such joy at the sight of him that she skipped along the street and almost kissed her hausband before the whole village.

But, Brown who has lost all faith, believes only in the depravity of man who is hopelessly damned, and "his dying hour was gloom."

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Young Goodman Brown

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