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The Minister's Black Veil Essay

1122 words - 4 pages

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil," Mr. Hooper, a Reverend in the town of Milford, surprises his parishioners by donning a conspicuous black veil one Sunday. The town is visibly spooked, yet still curious, about his eerie appearance and profoundly affected by his sermon on secret sin. "A subtle power was breathed into his words. Each member of the congregation, the most innocent girl, and the man of hardened breast, felt as if the preacher had crept upon them, behind his awful veil, and discovered their hoarded iniquity of deed or thought" (2432). The parishioner's expect that Hooper will only don the veil for one day and then remove it, having used the visage to make his point on secret sin, but they are taken aback to find that he does not remove the veil after that sunday, but in fact, ultimately wears it until his death. The town begins to gossip about why the Parson wears the crepe, questioning his purity and straying away from his person. When the Parson's intended, Elizabeth, asks him to do away with his foolishness and remove the veil, he sadly refuses, and Elizabeth reluctantly leaves him. The story concludes as the Parson dies, isolated by his choice to wear the veil with only the dying and the dead taking comfort in his presence, proclaiming that on each face he sees a black veil. In "The Minister's Black Veil," Nathaniel Hawthorne seeks to showcase the flaws of a society in which its members wear and create false facades by illustrating how it separates and alienates the individual from society, peers, reality, and spirituality.

In The Minister's Black Veil, Parson Hooper uses his black veil as a way to represent an individual verses their hidden sin. He sees each member of his community as having a black veil, which they can only remove once they reveal their hidden sin. I believe that Nathaniel Hawthorne and his character, Parson Hooper, seek to magnify the flaws of a society in which it's members parade along wearing and creating a false facade. They also seek to show how this facade separates and alienates you from society, peers, reality, and spirituality. " 'Have patience with me, Elizabeth!' cried he, passionately. 'Do not desert me, though this veil must be between us here on earth. Be mine, and hereafter there shall be no veil over my face, no darkness between our souls! It is but a mortal veil--it is not for eternity! O! You know not how lonely I am, and how frightened, to be alone behind my black veil. Do not leave me in this miserable obscurity forever!' 'Lift the veil but once, and look me in the face,' said she.'Never! It cannot be!' replied Mr. Hooper." " 'Tremble also at each other! Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children screamed and fled, only for my black veil? What, but the mystery which it obscurely typifies, has made this piece of crape so awful? When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the...

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