The Minister's Black Veil Analysis

1065 Words 5 Pages
In the romantic time period, religion was extremely strict and taken seriously; furthermore, any wrongdoing was punished by extreme measures. These harsh conditions created judgemental communities full of fear. In his short story, “The Minister’s Black Veil”, Nathaniel Hawthorne explains the effects of these issues on people. He tells the story of a parson, Mr. Hooper, who chooses to wear a black veil upon his face. In the story, the townspeople accuse him of committing a sin assuming his veil indicates guilt. Throughout his story, Hawthorne represents the judgemental facet of the Puritan community and their detestation of sin through the townspeople, which persuades many to hide their own sins. Utilizing the characterization of the townspeople …show more content…
Hooper to represent the town and the black veil to represent sin. In the midst of the story, Elizabeth questions his reasons for wearing the black veil. Mr. Hooper merely tells her, “if I cover it [his face] for secret sin, what mortal might not do the same?”(Hawthorne 269). Due to his words and the townspeople’s belief that he “hides his face under the consciousness of a secret sin”, it is evident the black veil is a symbol of “secret sin”(Hawthorne 269). Furthermore, usually, as a president or any leader represents the public, Mr. Hooper as the religious leader of the town is representative of the townspeople. Through this revelation, Hawthorne depicts the idea that everyone in the town has committed some “secret sin.” Interestingly, although Mr. Hooper acknowledges his sin by wearing the black veil, he never shares what sin he committed; therefore, Mr. Hooper conceals his sin. As he is representative of the townspeople, it is also true that the townspeople hide their sins. Although he never shared the sin he committed, Mr. Hooper acknowledges it unlike others. Upon his deathbed when the minister asks Mr. Hooper to remove his veil, he replies “On earth, never”(Hawthorne 272)! To this, the minister exclaims Mr. Hooper makes a grave mistake by taking his sin into judgment before God. To which, Mr. Hooper, in his final words, cries, “when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and lo! On every visage a Black Veil!”(Hawthorne 272). In his words, he shares his belief, one must not “shrink” from God and keep “the secret of his sin”. He further declares everyone possesses a “Black Veil” implying everyone also has a “secret sin” for which he/she wears the veil. Their veil, indicative of their sin, is intangible for people hide their sins. However, Mr. Hooper,

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