The Minister’s Black Veil

January 18, 2008 at 12:17 (Uncategorized)


Using all of the imagery throughout the story, what is Hawthorne trying to say about humanity?

The Minister’s Black Veil



  1. Scott said,

    The minister’s black veil is not so much a physical object, but a manifestation of his innermost problems and issues. The veil seems to represent either a portal into the world of the dead, or rather it represents death. “I had a fancy,” replied she, “that the minister and the maiden’s spirit were walking hand in hand.” (Hawthorne, page 4) This quote symbolizes the death that enshrouds the minister; it almost overcomes him to the point that he is no longer himself.

    However without the people of the village the veil would not have become such a symbol for secret evil and death. The reactions and gossiping of the townspeople are what made the veil more than a piece of black crape. “Truly do I,” replied the lady: “and I would not be alone with him for the world. I wonder if he is not afraid to be alone with himself!”(Hawthorne page 3) The people feel that the minister can see through them, see all their secret sins and their dirty souls. They cannot escape the mystery of what is behind the veil, and it eventually changes the entire villages view on a well respected man.

    Hawthorne used the people fear of an authority figure knowing their secrets to preach a sermon on human nature. He wanted to show that the tiniest disruption in daily life can cause drastic physical and mental affects on anyone. Using the Puritans as his subject matter also adds to the exaggeration of the smallest difference (i.e. the veil). Puritans are thought to be good and sinless people, so it just shows that even the most solidly built people still have secrets and things that they cannot share with anyone but themselves.

  2. Hannah Elliott said,

    Before I answer this question I have to start with some background. John Hathorne was Nathaniel’s great grandfather. His prominent ancestry in Salem led him to acquire positions of justice of the peace and county judge. Because he was a religious man he believed that people could be influenced by the devil. Hathorne put many innocent people to death and became the shame of his family even down to his great-grandson, who ended up changing his last name with a “w”.

    His family history and the messed up child hood influenced his writing. The witch trials made him see the darkness in people that he tries to show throughout this short story. In this case I think Hawthorne is trying to show how people are scarred and can be judgmental of things unknown through the veil. The people are not used to it and don’t understand why he insists on wearing it. It leaves an eerie feeling with the people they think its evil. They judge it and are scarred because they don’t understand.

  3. Colin Early said,

    The veil is a small of piece of matter, but in a social sense it matters most. The motivation behind the veil is unkown, thus the villagers assume it represents something dark, haunting, or evil; the definition of sin. The veil has to do in any case with cimmitment because he never takes it off. His motivation could be religion, sin, shame, guilt, self empowerment, fashion, self pitty, vanity; the list is endless. Thus it symbolizes infinity, the unkown, something different, and out of routine. The veil symbolizes the spark that develops into an inferno of assumptions, fears, and judgements. Mr. Hooper provided just enough mystery for the whole town to become enveloped and fuel the fire inro what it became their creative intensive storys and rumors about the pastor. The veil symbolizes a preoccupation on some miniscuele thing, thus showing our human falibility. An example, “with once accord they started, expressing more wonder than it some strange minister were coming to dust the cushions”.
    il do the rest later

  4. Ali said,

    The veil symbolizes a type of weapon that the Parson Hooper is using against his congregation to show them that he can see their sin, and also trying to get their attention. But in the end trying to scare the congregation and everyone else by wearing this veil the Parson Hooper becomes a completely different person.

    The symbolism behind the peoples reaction is that Hooper wore the veil just to see how everyone would react and how long they would keep talking about it. Later in the story everyone gets acustom to it. So then no one really says anything. At the end of this story still no one finds out why he wears the veil. I think near the end of the story he sees that he has become a whole different person just from trying to scare everyone, but ends up scaring himself. In this story it says “In this manner Mr. Hooper spent a long life, irreproachable in outward act, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; kind and loving, though unloved, and dimly feared; a man apart from men, shunned in their health and joy, but ever summoned to their aid in mortal anguish…”

    I personally think that Hawthorne wants his audience to be confused during this story and make up their own conclusions.

  5. Nick said,

    In the short story The Minister’s Black Veil, Hawthorne uses a unique imagery to give the reader a clear picture of this veil and its meaning. Mr. Hooper is describes as being “A gentlemanly person, of about thirty, though still a bachelor was dressed with due clerical neatness”. What happens when Hawthorne changes Mr. Hooper’s and adds a sense of darkness to his appearance? How does the reaction of the people show Hawthorn’s perception on humanity and the average person?

    This black veil changes the way people react and interpret Mr. Hooper. They begin to act scared and frightened of the man but also confused. I believe that this veil shows how much people rely on appearances in life. The veil shows how everyone has an evil side and some decide to come to terms with that side.

    The black veil symbolizes Mr. Hooper’s secret sin. While some come to terms with there sin by showing and excepting it others hide it. The story tells us that Mr. Hooper wants us to know about his sin and know that he is not perfect.

  6. haley said,

    “The subject had reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide from our nearest and dearest, and would fain conceal from our own consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect them.” Hawthorne’s words reveal that in the human mind, same now as years ago, perceive things based on what they already know. Words, symbols and actions merely trigger thoughts and emotions from the past. In this case, it is the veil that creates this mass chaos amongst the people in this Puritan- run town. It brings up dark secrets within every soul whom laid eyes upon it.

    The reaction being received by the minister was powerful, which was most likely his intended response. The people were not truly angry at Parson Hooper, just infuriated by the fact that he was the one who revealed their sin which they had much rather kept concealed. “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.” In reality, the preacher didn’t “creep upon them,” they are all just somewhat paranoid because until this point in time, they have been portraying such a pure way of life.

    All this may not even be what most consider being such sin, just a simple clash between Puritanism and Hedonism. Maybe not everyone wants to live by such extreme strictness. People in this small puritan town might want to live a libertinism life full of happiness and pleasure, but are only afraid because of the stern moral and religious code they are expected to follow.

  7. L.A. said,

    Hawthorne using a way of symbolism in “The minister’s black veil”, he showed how his veil symbolized all his sins. Even though he was a representative for a higher power, he himself and the town’s people we’re all “un-holy”. Quote from the text (page 302) “…for the symbol beneath which I have lied lied, and die!…”. I’ll admit, Hawthorne did use a great time period and symbol of a person who has greater power, but also someone who would be persecuted and frowned upon highly for his mistakes.

    I believe that the symbolism of the people’s reaction to the minister’s bold statement with the veil, was how they all hid in fear of speaking to Hooper about his current decision. As for his Fiancee, she was very confident about approaching him about wearing the veil. Quote from the text (page 299) ” ‘Life the veil but once, and look me in the face,’ said his Fiancee. ‘Never! It cannot be! ‘ said Mr. Hooper.”

    My conclusion to this essay may be short, but yet its to a very logical and obvious perception. I personally am going to assume Hawthorne is trying to say that we may not all be created equal. Yet, we all make mistakes.

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