Analysis Of Young Goodman Brown And The Minister's Black Veil By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Gifted with a rare intellect and uncanny insight into the dark side of humanity, Hawthorne’s claim to literary virtuosity is indisputable. Nathaniel Hawthorne exemplifies his greatness, in his short stories, through his mastery of revealing the universality of evil in mankind. In “Young Goodman Brown” and “The Minister’s Black Veil”, Hawthorne uses symbols and setting to teach morals that the presence of sin is undeniable in man’s fallen state.
A peek into Hawthorne’s personal life sheds light on the themes and subject matter he chose for his literature. Born in 19th century Massachusetts,
Limited by America’s lack of history, Hawthorne turned to something more personal as an inspiration. John Hathorne, his great-great-grandfather, infamously
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Hawthorne emphasized the realistic traits of the story by adding a non-fictional note after the story’s conclusion. He writes, “Another clergymen in New England, Mr. Joseph Moody...accidentally killed a beloved friend; and from that day till the hour of his own death, he hid his face from men” (Hawthorne 302-20). Little did Mr. Moody know, but he would serve as the inspiration for Hawthorne’s fictional Reverend Mr. Hooper eighty years later. Mr. Hooper’s tale takes place in a generic town and focuses on the relationship between the laity and their beloved local reverend. After the reverend abruptly dons a black veil that conceals everything above his mouth, this relationship is strained. The town’s reactions swing from surprise to confusion to speculation to contempt towards the veil’s permanent arrival. The “veil causes terror not because of its literal appearance but because of the truth it represents: Secret sin is universal” (Alexander 1-3). Mr. Hooper never directly addresses the veil, nor does his flock ever ask him of its significance. His first sermon with the veil “had reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hid from our nearest and dearest...even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect them” (Hawthorne 302-20). Every human wears a veil in attempt to cover their own sin, blinding only themselves in the end. Hawthorne alludes to the Day of Judgment because it’s the ultimate reckoning of that specific transgression. All veils will be cast aside, and humanity’s darkest sins will be revealed. Understanding the after-life consequences for not acknowledging one’s sins out of pride, Mr. Hooper serves as “a spiritual guide choosing to visually teach a moral precept to his community, even at the cost of

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