Emotional Guilt In Nathaniel Hawthorne´S The Minister´S Black Veil

1701 words - 7 pages

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Minister’s Black Veil is a story of guilt, humility, sin, hypocrisy, love, compounded emotional stability and trials of life. It is a work of gothic literary art that describes the complexity of emotions and the psychological give and take that takes place when processing and dealing with any human emotion. The gothic writing style Hawthorne uses in The Minister's Black Veil makes it easy for him to focus on one main emotion: guilt. Hawthorne is no stranger to guilt, a huge reason why he discusses its nature so much. The Hawthorne families, formally known as Hathorne, were involved in the Salem Witch Trials and have carried the shame and guilt of their families decisions through generations. Throughout this story, guilt is a prominent concern for all the characters involved: the minister, the minster's fiancé, and the towns people. Hawthorne uses gothic tones and descriptions to define and describe the natural human emotion of guilt.
Hawthorne's main character is the Minister, Mr. Parson Hooper who is described as “… a gentlemanly person of about thirty...was dressed with due clerical neatness...and brushed the weekly dust from his Sunday's garb” (2431). In Hawthorne’s portrayal, Mr. Hooper is intimated as a calculated man. Hooper’s stringent schedule and precision shows that he was a man of a routine that the community was familiar with. Hawthorne’s reference to Hooper’s strict routine conveys to the reader that the townsfolk are not accustomed to change. It is also suggested that his routine gave the townspeople a sense of security. Hawthorne then drastically alters the tone of the piece with one small symbol: a piece of cloth. When Hawthorne introduces this extremely significant representation: “…Mr. Hooper had on a black veil” (2431), the public reacted unexpectedly by occupying themselves through talking “of little else than Parson Hooper’s black veil.” (2434). Such a small and insignificant transform to their surroundings turned the tranquil and innocent setting into a dark, dreary, and mysterious situation. As a result of Hawthorne taking the society out of their comfort zone, the people began gossiping, spreading rumors, and prompting questions about their minister, Mr. Hooper.
The use of a minister as the main character is especially significant throughout this gothic story. In literary symbolism, a minister is applied as a symbol of light, happiness and peace. Hawthorne takes this symbol and instead transforms Hooper into a representation of distress and obscurity. The rumor “Our parson has gone mad!” (2432), becomes the general consensus of the surrounding community. In this specific condemnation Hawthorne skillfully uses the word ‘mad’ in this sentence to portray various contexts. Firstly, the word ‘mad’ is used to describe the mental state of the Minister but it is also applied to depiction of the condition concerning the community’s sense of ordinariness. This coincides with the public’s view that the...

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