Nathaniel Hawthorne's purpose is to show how wrong and unnatural it is for a woman to leave her family. He achieves this purpose by showing a woman in unnatural, evil circumstances grieving until she dies.
The woman who approaches the crone is beautiful but despondent. She's young, but her heart is heavy. Showing that her leaving has already filled her with regret and dissatisfaction is one way that Hawthorne shows the wrongness of her actions. She approaches the crone, who appears to be otherworldly and evil from her words and actions.
The setting is otherworldly, which shows the nature of the woman's sins. Hawthorne says that other people can't see where the two women meet. The crone says there's a limited amount of time that she can show the young woman those she left behind. It's an uncomfortable, unwelcoming setting, which could be a metaphor for the world the woman faces once she's left the warm embrace of her family. Instead, she dies after seeing the sadness of her loved ones.
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