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The Minister's Black Veil By Nathaniel Hawthorne

1641 words - 7 pages

The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne

"The Minister's black veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story of a
life of a clergyman Hooper which leaves the reader with the feeling of
sacrifice but also a sort of a personal tragedy. The reader becomes
acquainted with the protagonist at the crucial moment of his life, the
moment in which he decides to wear a black veil on his face.

The very beginning of the story is a portrait of a happy everyday life
of a village - merry children are willing to make fun of a graver's
gait, spruce bachelors are looking sidelong at the pretty maidens and
a sexton is tolling the bell - and its light-hearted mood contrasts
with that of the rest of the story. It gives us a taste of what the
parson's life was like before his decision to wear his black veil,
i.e. happy with the inhabitants of the city showing him the signs of
respect. With the decision to wear the veil starts a period of
alienation in his life.

As early as after his first sermon in the veil his alienation starts:
"old Squire Saunders, doubtless by an accidental lapse of memory,
neglected to invite Mr. Hooper to his table, where the good clergyman
had been wont to bless the food, almost every Sunday since his
settlement". Although the only thing he changed in himself was the
black veil on his face the inhabitants of the village changed the
perception of the entire person which can be exemplified by the words
of an old woman: "He has changed himself into something awful, only by
hiding his face". The explanation that some people give for his
wearing the veil is a mental disease, then, as the veil is stubbornly
not removed by the parson, they start to speculate about his honesty
and sin he had probably committed. Some people start to perceive the
minister as ghostlike or even dead just because of his black veil
which is revealed in the words of women: "The black veil, although it
covers only the pastor's face, throws his influences over the whole
person, and makes him ghostlike from head to foot", "I had a fancy (…)
that the minister's and the maiden's spirits (the comment takes place
at a funeral of a young girl) were walking hand in hand". No matter
what the perception of the black veil is it is certain that the veil
"and the mystery behind it, supplied a topic for discussion between
acquaintances meeting in the street, and good women gossiping at their
windows". The people felt that the veil was "the symbol of a fearful
secret between him and them".

The veil gives everything a dark and a gloomy aspect. The preacher's
first sermon in the veil penetrates his parishioners souls, the gloomy
atmosphere is present even at a wedding, as the parson does not decide
to remove it on this occasion. The colour of the veil is important and
symbolizes death and evil.

With the decision...

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