Critical Analysis of Hawthorne's "Minister's Black Veil

Essay add: 22-06-2016, 14:12   /   Views: 201
Critical Analysis of Hawthorne's "Minister's Black Veil"

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil,” Hawthorne advances the theme of secret sin by using Mr. Hooper, the main character. In the opening scene of this story Mr. Hooper, a thirty year old minister, wore a black veil on his face which hid his facial features and expressions. Although his congregation was alarmed by the veil, they were in some ways drawn closer to Mr. Hooper out of mystery. As Mr. Hooper preached about secret sin, the congregation felt that he was talking about each one of them individually and that he knew the secrets that they were holding from the world. Throughout the story many people tried to convince Mr. Hooper to take the veil off but he simply denied their request and wore it all of his life. While on his deathbed, Mr. Hooper concluded that every human being wore a veil to conceal their secret sins. By wearing the veil it is indicated that Mr. Hooper had committed a crime that he wanted to hide from his congregation, or he wanted his congregation to realize that they were all wearing a veil that hid their secret sins.

In today’s society people lie, steel, and cheat every day. When a person does something they are ashamed of they either try to cover it up or keep it to themselves vowing never to tell a soul what they have done. To Mr. Hooper the black veil was his way of keeping something hidden deep inside himself. To the congregation the black veil was a wall between them and their minister whom they loved so much. The veil made the congregation unsure about how to act towards Mr. Hooper. Because of Mr. Hooper’s new appearance some thought he had gone mad, some ended up neglecting him, and some made light of him.

In the case of “The Minister’s Black Veil,” it is the veil itself that represents the minister’s knowledge of secret sin, and it is this knowledge that isolates him from everyone around him. It has separated him from his beloved, from his friends and his congregation. It is evident that it is the veil, and his consistent refusal to remove it, which causes him to be avoided by others and left alone, yet the reason why the veil was originally donned is not as clear (Garino).

When Mr. Hooper started wearing the veil his congregation felt as if he was a totally different man and they could not relate to him as they did before.

But when Mr. Hooper appears, his face veiled the parishioners are astonished. Now the minister is not Mr. Hooper, but only “the semblance of Mr. Hooper,” only a non material essence hidden behind a veil. Mr. Hooper, a man “of thirty, though still a bachelor,” may well don the veil at this time because he fears to face responsibilities. Not only has he ceased to be his true self, but he wears a black (dead) cloth “swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his face.” The veil, in its shape and color suggest a fig-leaf-shaped loincloth hiding the bright visage of the young minister. He has chosen to forsake the world at an age when his powers of manhood are at their greatest (“thirty”), and he has taken the symbolic mutilation experience (Dewsbury pg. 296).

As a man of God Mr. Hooper’s job was to lead his congregation spiritually by example. If Mr. Hooper were found doing something wrong he probably would have been put to death as an example to others.

Secret Sin, the title of Mr. Hooper’s sermon, is what we all hold deep with in ourselves. Even though we sometimes convince ourselves that things we have done wrong are all right we always hold these things deep with in our souls. By wearing the black veil and preaching about secret sin Mr. Hooper acknowledged the fact that everyone commits sins and wears a veil to hide their sins from the world.

Article name: Critical Analysis of Hawthorne's "Minister's Black Veil essay, research paper, dissertation