Understanding Hawthornes In The Thesis Statement
In "The Minister's Black Veil: A Parable" and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the ministers, Arthur Dimmesdale and the Reverend Mr. Hooper, deal with a great deal of sorrow and grief. The men have something that weighs them down and inhibits their daily lives. In these two stories, Hawthorne takes two well-respected, well-educated puritan men and slowly destroys their lives throughout the course of their respective tales to prove a point to his audience. Hawthorne is thought to be one of the most influential writers in American History.
He is credited with using a great deal of symbolism and theme in his writing. Many of the themes he commonly deals with in Puritan New England are guilt, alienation, and secret sin. Hawthorne wrote many timeless tales such as The Scarlet Letter, The Blithedale Romance, and The House of Seven Gables, where he uses many of these themes and symbols (Reuben). Both Arthur Dimmesdale and the Reverend Mr.
Hooper are both well liked, successful men, but are tormented because both men choose to allow their suffering to continue.In the beginning of the stories, the reader is introduced to two very important Puritan ministers, Arthur Dimmesdale and the Reverend Mr. Hooper. Hooper is a very well liked man.
Every Sabbath day, after his sermon, many people from his congregation converse with him, and some invite him to eat dinner at their homes. Dimmesdale shares these same qualities. He is looked upon as a well-respected Puritan minister. He is looked on as one of the key leaders of the community (Telgen 310).
Hawthorne chooses a well-respected man to make his point that much stronger (Martin, Nathaniel Hawthorne 75).In "The Minister's Black Veil", Hooper is tormented by his alienation due to the fact that he is wearing this mysterious veil. People who used to love him and talk to him and invite him to dinner will no longer engage him in conversation. Children who used to greet him when they passed him on the street now run away in fear as if he were some kind of monster. Also, as a result of his stubbornness directed toward the mystery of the veil, he loses Elizabeth because, even when she asks him to, he will not remove the veil. The veil transforms him into someone who is completely apart from his community (Martin, Nathaniel Hawthorne 75).
Hooper wears the veil to symbolize secret sin. He claims that everyone wears the veil of secret sin because they have sin that they haven't confessed, and also says that he sees the veil on all of his congregation's hearts (Martin, Nathaniel Hawthorne 75). The same applies for Arthur Dimmesdale. Seeing the scarlet letter on Hester's chest every day torments him.
He feels an enormous amount of regret and sorrow over the fact that she must go through everyday with the shame of the scarlet letter's symbolism. At the same time, he feels terribly guilty over the fact that she has confessed her sin whereas he has pinned it all up inside. Hester has confessed, therefore she no longer has any kind of remorse or guilt built up.
Dimmesdale on the other hand, has so much of all of these things that it's thought that he even resorted to self-mortification.In both of these stories, the men who have this built up remorse and sorrow, who have been miserable from the day of their defining act, until, literally, the end of their lives, choose to let all of their pain and grief continue. In "The Minister's Black Veil", Hooper puts the veil on out of his own free will. He could have taken it off at any time over the many years he kept it on. Even after he loses his betrothed, Elizabeth, he stillbears the mask. Hooper will not remove the veil.
He becomes separated from any kind of emotion. The veil acts as a sort of barrier to keep his emotions in and keep others' emotions completely out. Readers tend to think that the Reverend Mr. Hooper puts on the veil because he is guilty of some kind of secret sin. However, many people in his congregation give their assumptions as to his reason for wearing the black veil.
Some say he strained his eyes, some say it is a symbol of insanity. Some even go as far to say that it is a symbol of grief and mourning for someone who had passed on. His parish and his community leave him completely and utterly alone. Whatever the critics may say, Hooper never gives a true reason for wearing the veil.
Whenever someone, including his betrothed, asks why he as chosen to keep the veil, he replies with a vague, opaque answer, basically saying that there are many reasons that he has kept the veil. Some critics, one being Edgar Allan Poe, have given their various speculations on why he chose to shroud his life in secrecy. (Martin, Nathaniel Hawthorne 74-5). In The Scarlet Letter, Arthur Dimmesdale replicates the same behavior. Dimmesdale agonizes for years over his ultimate failure and his guilt and anguish that resulted.
He knows that he could confess and his grief would be extinguished like Hester's. However, despite all this, he continues to bear this mark on his soul and live with all his pain and dishonor built up inside and leaves it buried within him until he uses his final breaths to confess it. He willingly lets the rest of his life be ruined because he cannot summon the courage to cleanse his soul by telling the truth. In the end, Dimmesdale is the initiator of his own downfall.Both of these men go through so much to prove one of Hawthorne's most famousthemes.
Hawthorne uses these men to show how the mass majority views the dangers of secret sin, and how not confessing your sin will lead you down a path of pain and suffering.
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