Page:Nathaniel Hawthorne (Woodbury).djvu/156
crape has fallen like the blackness of night upon all life, for life has become a thing of darkness, a concealment. Here the moral idea is predominant, and in it the symbol issues into its full life.
Hawthorne's art became always, not only more vividly symbolized, but more deeply moralized. The secrecy of men's bosoms was a matter that interested him very much; the idea had a fascination for him. It is the substance of the tale of "Young Goodman Brown," who goes to the witches' Sabbath in the Essex woods and there sees those who have taught him religion, the righteous and the good, men and women, and his own wife,—sees them or their devil-brewed phantasms; he calls on heaven, and finds himself suddenly alone; but when he returns to the village, and looks again on the venerable fathers and mothers of his childhood and his own tender and loving wife, he cannot free his mind from the doubt,—were they what they seemed or had he indeed beheld them there in the woods at their orgy? It is as if for him the veil were lifted, and he alone saw, like omniscience, into the bosoms of all. Suspicion, arising from his own contact with evil, though he escaped, has imparted the look of hypocrisy to all life; this is his bedevilment. Here the place of the physical object is taken by the incident of the woods, and the moral idea is less clearly stated; the story is one of those whose significance is felt to contain mystery which Hawthorne meant to remain in its dark state.