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
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories are strongly developed around his unique and powerful use of physical setting. Often the location and the time of day of the story speak as much -- if not more -- of the plot, giving a deeper meaning then just the outside world. However, this emphasis on the physical setting is not always present, as in “The Minister’s Black Veil.” Instead, Hawthorne here used primarily the psychological setting of the characters (and most of all with Parson Hooper) to create this masterpiece work that creates just as much an impact - if not more so -- than any physical setting could ever achieve. Hawthorne’s gift as a writer who knew the power of darkness is evident in his short story “The Minister’s Black Veil”.
When one has to grope for, and fumble for, the meaning of a tale, then there is “failure” in the work, as Henry James says. This unfortunately is the case of “The Minister’s Black Veil.” It is so ambiguous in so many occasions in the tale that a blur rather than a distinct image forms in the mind of the reader. The Norton Anthology: American Literature states in “Nathaniel Hawthorne”:
Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil" embodies the hidden sins that we all hide and that in turn distance us from the ones we love most. Reverend Hooper dons a black veil throughout this story, and never takes it off. He has discerned in everyone a dark, hidden self of secret sin. In wearing the veil Hooper dramatizes the isolation that each person experiences when they are chained down by their own sinful deeds. He has realizes that symbolically everyone can be found in the shadow of their own dark veil. Hooper in wearing this shroud across his face is only amplifying the dark side of people and the truth of human existence and nature.
In The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author seeks to convey that although all individuals are sinners, members of society will condemn those who seek to confront their own faults. This conclusion was drawn from the many motifs which relate to Puritan society, particularly the superstitions and Christian ideologies of many New Englanders during the 18th century. In this tale, Mr. Hooper’s donning of the black veil is viewed as a change which alters his countenance indefinitely; from the moment it is introduced, those who view it are awestruck. The mere sight of Mr. Hooper even acts as a “signal for the bell to cease its summons”. As murmurs spread throughout the congregation, Mr. Hooper preaches of “secret sin, and those
During the period of American Gothic literature, authors, such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe, incorporated the sinister perspective of the human nature in their writings. Both Hawthorne’s symbolic short story, “The Minister’s Black Veil”, and Poe’s violent fiction, “The Tell-Tale Heart”, demonstrate separation and symbolism throughout the course of each story. In Hawthorne’s story, the protagonist, Minister Hooper, decides to wear a black veil over his face and vows to never remove it. This vow continues to the point of his death. Mr. Hooper’s decision to wear the black veil consequently separates him from society. Hawthorne uses the veil to symbolize the human psyche and efforts to hide sins. In Poe’s story, the narrator is the caretaker of an old man with a blind eye. He describes his internal discomfort when he sees the eye, and later devises a plan to murder the old man. His separation from humanity due to the uneasy feeling of the old man’s pale, blind eye are shown through his efforts to commit murder.
Guilt and shame haunt all three of the main characters in The Scarlet Letter, but how they each handle their sin will change their lives forever. Hester Prynne’s guilt is publicly exploited. She has to live with her shame for the rest of her life by wearing a scarlet letter on the breast of her gown. Arthur Dimmesdale, on the other hand, is just as guilty of adultery as Hester, but he allows his guilt to remain a secret. Instead of telling the people of his vile sin, the Reverend allows it to eat away at his rotting soul. The shame of what he has done slowly kills him. The last sinner in this guilty trio is Rodger Chillingworth. This evil man not only hides his true identity as Hester’s husband, but also mentally torments
The author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, is the nephew of John Hathorne. During the Salem Witch Trials, the only judge that did not apologize for the remorseless and cruel acts that were put upon many men and women was in fact John Hathorne. Nathaniel changed his last name from Hathorne to Hawthorne in an attempt to disassociate himself from his uncle. John Hathorne is the reason why Nathaniel Hawthorne is obsessed with the puritan times. Hawthorne lived in the 1800s, but the setting of the novel is based before the Salem Witch Trials were held in the 1600s. In his novel, The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses the symbolism of the scarlet letter, Dimmesdale, and burrs to contribute to the overall theme of guilt.
American Romanticism was a literary and artistic movement that placed emphasis on strong emotions. Emotions intensified most were ones such as horror and terror, as well as awe. In, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the emotions of horror, terror, and awe are drawn upon throughout the story, which follows the events and reactions of the citizens of a village after their resident minister suddenly starts to wear a black veil, which invokes discomfort and fear into the people. As with many of his stories, Hawthorne developed “The Minister’s Black Veil” around a symbol, which in this case is the veil. The veil represents that even the people that seem like they have nothing to hide or be ashamed of do, just as everyone else does. Hawthorne also makes the point of saying that although people do have secrets that they wish to not make a matter of, others still do not respect their privacy, and may even go out of their way to wonder and discuss the subject of the secret, without confronting the person themselves about it.
The veil that the minister wears in "The Ministers Black Veil", by Nathanial Hawthorne represents the emphasis on man's inner reality, and those thoughts and feelings which are not immediately obvious. As Hawthorne explored this inner nature, he found the source of dignity and virtue, and certain elements of darkness. When the minister first walks out of his home wearing the veil, everyone is astonished. This one man in this village decides to be a nonconformist and wear this veil without explanation. No one understands why the minister would wear such a veil for no reason at all. This is where all the assumptions begin to linger. All of the villagers have a story for why the veil is there. These people are
Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil" illustrates the dangers of secret sin. Allowing guilt from things done in the past, things that cannot be changed, can ruin lives. The life of the secret-carrier will be devastated, along with the lives of that person's most loved ones. Hawthorne uses various types of figurative language in his works to portray his message. "The Minister's Black Veil” is no exception; Hawthorne uses symbolism and suggestion to add depth and mystery.
There are two areas where I can find a connection between “The Minister’s Black Veil” and American Romanticism. One is the importance of individual freedom in the sense that each person has the right to choose for himself. In the short story, Reverend Hooper chooses ro wear a black veil over his face for the rest of his life.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil," Mr. Hooper, a Reverend in the town of Milford, surprises his parishioners by donning a conspicuous black veil one Sunday. The town is visibly spooked, yet still curious, about his eerie appearance and profoundly affected by his sermon on secret sin. "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" (2432). The parishioner's expect that Hooper will only don the veil for one day and then remove it, having used the visage to make his point on secret sin, but they are taken aback to
Based on the evaluations of literary critics, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” contains both an external and an internal conflict, about equally treated in the tale. It is the intent of this essay to explore both types of conflict as presented in the story.
“The Minister’s Black Veil” was first published in 1832 and was written during the American Romantic time period. Romanticism was a time period where emotion and beliefs were valued over reason and facts. Nathaniel Hawthorne can be seen as a writer of “Dark Romanticism,” a sub genre of Romanticism with a fascination with horrific themes and the exploration of the psychological effects of sin and guilt, and where the writers focused on judgement, punishment, and self-destruction. Hawthorne’s use of this style of writing sets the tone of the work as a observation of the nature of sin.
If we take “The Minister’s Black Veil” as a horror story, it leads us to certain conclusions about the nature of the veil and Hooper’s refusal to take it off. If horror is something that centers upon the horrifying or macabre, especially concerning the supernatural, one can see that this story could belong. Hooper never divulges the exact nature of the veil, and we are left to speculate about what it could possibly mean. Several possibilities present themselves if we think of this story as a horror story; it could be that the veil is covering Hooper’s face to be a constant reminder to his congregation and all who see him of secret sin. It seems that the idea that he could possibly know someone’s secret sin is terrifying to the townspeople. Indeed, this veil does give Hooper “awful power over souls that were in agony for sin” (943). Sinners fear him, because they feel that the black veil is a reference to their own personal secret sins. And the veil gives him an association with the dead and ghostly qualities; after the girl’s funeral at the beginning of the story, one woman remarks that she thought she saw Hooper walking hand in hand with the ghost of the dead girl. Such things would not have been imagined if he had never donned the veil.