Emotional Guilt in Nathaniel Hawthorne´s The Minister´s Black Veil

Decent Essays

Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Minister’s Black Veil is a story of guilt, humility, sin, hypocrisy, love, compounded emotional stability and trials of life. It is a work of gothic literary art that describes the complexity of emotions and the psychological give and take that takes place when processing and dealing with any human emotion. The gothic writing style Hawthorne uses in The Minister's Black Veil makes it easy for him to focus on one main emotion: guilt. Hawthorne is no stranger to guilt, a huge reason why he discusses its nature so much. The Hawthorne families, formally known as Hathorne, were involved in the Salem Witch Trials and have carried the shame and guilt of their families decisions through generations. Throughout this story, …show more content…

The use of a minister as the main character is especially significant throughout this gothic story. In literary symbolism, a minister is applied as a symbol of light, happiness and peace. Hawthorne takes this symbol and instead transforms Hooper into a representation of distress and obscurity. The rumor “Our parson has gone mad!” (2432), becomes the general consensus of the surrounding community. In this specific condemnation Hawthorne skillfully uses the word ‘mad’ in this sentence to portray various contexts. Firstly, the word ‘mad’ is used to describe the mental state of the Minister but it is also applied to depiction of the condition concerning the community’s sense of ordinariness. This coincides with the public’s view that the Minister has become deranged because they assume that he is hiding his identity from the community. Secondly, the connotation of the word ‘mad’ is that the community is slowly going ‘mad’ because of the lack of knowledge of what is happening with Mr. Hooper. Hawthorne also introduces a personal response from one of the public that reads: “…I would not be alone with him for the world” (2433), which describes the mistrust of their minister that, in turn, is influencing them to become ‘mad’. A large portion of The Minister’s Black Veil that demonstrates this story is gothic is the technique

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