Minister's Black Veil - Poverty in Minister’s Black Veil and in Hawthorne’s Life

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Poverty in “The Minister’s Black Veil” and in Hawthorne’s Life

How many readers have considered that the utter simplicity within the Nathaniel Hawthorne short story, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” might be an expression or reflection of the utter poverty within the life of Hawthorne? It is the purpose of this essay to clarify this issue.

Hawthorne’s impoverishment probably began with the untimely death of his father, and continued until 1857. He had no money for a college education. Gloria C. Erlich in “The Divided Artist and His Uncles” states that “Robert Manning made the essential decisions in the lives of the Hawthorne children and is well known as the uncle who sent Hawthorne to college” (35). After
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He sent them to Samuel G. Goodrich, the editor of Token, an annual gift book, but Goodrich was interested only in individual stories. Goodrich published one story in 1831, and in 1832 he published “The Gentle Boy” (for which he paid Hawthorne thirty –five dollars) and three others. . . . Though he was getting his work published, Hawthorne complained to Horatio Bridge in 1836 that he could earn no more than three hundred dollars a year by writing stories for magazines and annual gift books. A third collection of tales organized as a collection, The Story Teller, had also failed to win acceptance from a publisher. To supplement his income, Hawthorne worked for a short time as a magazine editor. . . .Hawthorne clearly needed a higher income than he was earning by selling individual stories. Horatio Bridge persuaded him to prepare a collection of his best tales and publish them. . . . Twice-Told Tales, and submitted them to Goodrich. Without Hawthorne’s knowledge, Bridge guaranteed Goodrich $250 against losses. . . . (17).

After terminating the twelve-year self-imposed exile, Nathaniel became secretly engaged in 1838 to Sophia Peabody; he waited for his savings to increase to the point where he could marry. Fortunately, in early 1839, at fifteen hundred dollars per year, Hawthorne obtained a political appointment to the Boston Custom House, where he became a weigher and gauger of salt and

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