"it gave her a sympathetic knowledge of the hidden sin in other hearts"

This is one of Hawthorne’s favorite themes. He explores it particularly memorably in his 1835 short story ‘Young Goodman Brown,’ the tale of a New England Puritan who becomes acquainted with the true natures of his supposedly virtuous fellow townspeople during a midnight sojourn in the forest. These upright, honest folk are, he finds, all regular attendants of satanic masses and intend to inaugurate him and his wife — the town’s two remaining uncorrupted souls — into their diabolical order. Just as Hester identifies her insights as “the insidious whispers of the bad angel,” Young Goodman Browns’ rob him of his faith in mankind and it is through this, rather than any ritual induction, that the devil gains his soul.