Secret Sin In The Minister's Black Veil

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” there is an apparent message sent throughout the text: Secret sin of any one person has the ability to eat away at him or her, causing an overwhelming sense of guilt that can control and overtake his or her life; but can also become a necessary evil and a positive good at the same time. The image of secret sin that captivates Parson Hooper isolates his relationships from his congregation, Elizabeth, and God. In “The Minster’s Black Veil,” Parson Hooper wears his black veil to represent his own private sin, in hopes of receiving some form of spiritual forgiveness. Parson Hooper’s reason for covering his face with the veil is not disclosed in the story. There are many theories as to why, …show more content…
When Elizabeth comes to see him and is trying to persuade him to explain himself and remove the veil, he refuses by saying, “I am bound to wear it …both in light and darkness…even you, Elizabeth, will never come behind it!” (416). Also, on his death bed, Parson Hooper will not reveal his face, even at the end of his life. He declares,“Never… [o]n earth, never!” (419). It is apparent that whatever Parson Hooper is hiding, he feels that it is so great that he must conceal it for the whole of his life in order to repent and seek final forgiveness. He believes that he is forbidden from revealing himself, that he is not worthy of showing his face, to his congregation because of his sin. Not only has his remorse kept him from any intimacy or relationship in his personal life, but it causes his congregation to become afraid. One townsperson said, “He changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his …show more content…
Parson Hooper is able to connect with, and pour grace on, those in his congregation through the power of God by him openly repenting for his own sin. Through the process of allowing himself to admit to his own wrongdoing, and feeling the guilt of secret sin, Parson Hooper obtaines the ability to help those seeking forgiveness that came to him. Hawthorn states, “…He became a man of awful power, over souls that were in agony for sin” (417) . However, one can argue that although Parson Hooper did, to an extent, repent for his sin, he never openly talks about it and confesses it. That may be the reason he can never bring himself to take off the veil. He doesn’t fully accept the grace extended to him because he felt that he was not deserving of it. One can question how Parson Hooper is able to help those in his congregation accept their own grace, if he isn’t able to do so himself. Parson Hooper is traditionally praised for his courageous representation of secret sin and an outward symbol of the imperfections of sinners in comparison with God. However, it is evident that Parson Hooper was still ashamed and fearful of the retribution he might face if he ever admitted to whatever sin he had

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