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The Minister's Black Veil

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by

Cameron Schuette

on 28 April 2011

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Transcript of The Minister's Black Veil

"The Minister's Black Veil" “Why do you tremble at me alone?” cried he, turning his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. “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 eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a Black Veil!”

While his auditors shrank from one another, in mutual affright, Father Hooper fell back upon his pillow, a veiled corpse, with a faint smile lingering on the lips. Still veiled, they laid him in his coffin, and a veiled corpse they bore him to the grave. The grass of many years has sprung up and withered on that grave, the burial stone is moss-grown, and good Mr. Hooper’s face is dust; but awful is still the thought that it mouldered beneath the Black Veil! Because of his guilty conscience, Mr. Hooper hides his face with a black veil. This veil symbolizes sin and morality. It acts as a physical and mental barrier between the minister and his environment. The veil allows Mr. Hooper to see everyone without being seen himself. In order to emphasize the minister's treatment as a result of the veil, Hawthorne uses rhetorical questions. Because of the mysterious black veil, tension arises between the minister and the community. Once again, Hawthorne uses rhetorical questions to emphasize the cause for the community's fear. Without knowing Mr. Hooper's motivations, the community assumes the veil is the result of a moral fault. The mystery behind the veil causes much apprehension and fear among the people. Mr. Hooper wears the black veil to symbolize the metaphorical black veil that everyone possesses. While the minister wears the mark of his sin on his face, others hide their guilt in their heart. Regardless, sin casts a shadow on everyone, tainting their morality. Hooper carried his sin to his grave. Never leaving his face, the black veil followed him, even in death. While dead and buried, Hooper's guilt still casts a shadow over him in the form of the black veil. He carried his secret to his death, never revealing the cause of his solitude. Hawthorne himself labels this story as a parable. The purpose of the black veil is to teach a lesson: people are capable of both good and evil. Mr. Hooper, a minister, symbolizes faith and purity, while his black veil represents sin and guilt. This short story adresses Hawthorne's common theme of morality. Here, the black veil symbolizes a clouded conscience. The minister's isolation exaggerates the consequences of sin in order to convey a moral lesson.
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