A Comparison of "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Minister's Black Veil"

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Throughout his literary endeavors, Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes symbolism to present a certain theme that pertains to human nature and life. In his works, The Scarlet Letter and "The Minister's Black Veil", Hawthorne uses symbolism to present a common theme pertaining to religion; that though manifested sin will ostracize a person from society, un-confessed sin will destroy the soul.

The central theme in The Scarlet Letter is that manifested sin will ostracize one from society and un-confessed sin will lead to the destruction of the inner spirit. Hawthorne uses the symbol of the scarlet letter to bring out this idea. In the novel, Hester is forced to wear the scarlet letter A (the symbol of her sin) because she committed adultery
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He suffers total deterioration, both physical and mental due to his hiding of his adultery and not claiming Pearl as his daughter. He physically tortures himself and over a period of several years he becomes emaciated and weak. It is only when he announces to the public atop the same scaffold that Hester had to bear her shame seven years earlier, that he gains relief and frees himself from the sin that plagued him, which allows him to die peacefully.

In the short story, "The Minister's Black Veil," Nathaniel Hawthorne presents a similar theme to that of The Scarlet Letter through the usage of the black veil that the Reverend Mr. Hooper drapes across his face to hide his secret transgressions from the world. The veil the clergyman wears is voluntary punishment, in contrast to the scarlet letter that Hester was forced to wear, though it's consequences are similar for Reverend Hooper, as he becomes an outcast of society as well. Though everyone knows Hester's sin, no one can even find the courage to ask Father Hooper why he wears his veil. When his wife, Elizabeth, finally does ask him, he gives her no clear answer and thus the veil's meaning is ambiguous and the townspeople all have their different theories for it including sin, sorrow, and weak eyes; though most fingers pointed towards a secret sin. The ambiguity of the black veil is similar to the ambiguity of the scarlet letter. At first the letter stood for the sin of adultery
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