Alienation in The Minister's Black Veil
"The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story about one clergyman's alienation due to his outward dressing. Reverend Hooper was a well-respected preacher who got along well with the townspeople until one day when he appeared wearing a black veil over his face that consisted "of two folds of crape, which entirely concealed his features, except the mouth and chin" (Hawthorne 253). From that day onward, he was alienated both socially and physically from his community and from himself due to his inability to remove the veil.
Reverend Hooper's black veil caused alienation from his congregation. The minister did not even move his veil to perform marriages, which the town believed "could portend nothing but evil to the wedding" (Hawthorne 256). This odd piece of clothing caused rumors about the holy man which caused his congregation to doubt his message. The veil "and the mystery behind it, supplied a topic for discussion between acquaintances meeting in the street, and good women gossiping at their open windows" (Hawthorne 256). The minister might have committed a secret sin, or he could have used the veil to make a silent statement. Whatever his reason for his odd clothing, Reverend Hooper's veil caused more than a physical separation from the people of his town. The people felt the veil was "the symbol of a fearful secret between him and them" (Hawthorne 256). Their fear and confusion of the minister's motives caused strange behavior and unnatural withdrawal from their spiritual leader.
After the initial onset of the black veil, the minister was alienated from himself. After performing the wedding, he caught a glimpse of himself in the looking-glass, and "the black veil involved his own spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed all others" (Hawthorne 256). He would no longer look in a mirror at himself because "his antipathy to the...