Figurative Language in “The Minister’s Black Veil” Essay

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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. Hawthorne's parable, "The Minister's Black Veil," uses symbols to illustrate the effect of shame and guilt. In the story, Mr. Hooper represents the average Christian with a deep longing to be holy, and have fellowship with man. However he allows the cross…show more content…
But Mr. Hooper cannot even reveal his face to her because he fears society's condemnation concerning his mistakes more than his love for her. His unwillingness to share his secret wounds Elizabeth deeply, and causes her to break off their engagement. Nevertheless, Elizabeth also represents faithfulness because she returns to him on his deathbed. "What Mr. Hooper perceives on the faces of the spectators is a shadow of his own veil. The darkness which envelops his heart blinds him to the meaning of Christian love, even though it now attends him in the person of Elizabeth, who [...] is a symbol of consecration to God. With a distrust of power of redemptive love, human or divine, man virtually commits himself to the devil." (Stein 392). When Hooper died, he was laid to rest in the veil. Since then, “…grass of many years has sprung up and withered on that grave, the burial stone is moss-grown…” (par 59). The newly-grown grass represents people remembering his good qualities and mystery, but eventually his memory and even his veil became yet another moss-covered gravestone much like the ones he visited during his exile. The element that adds the most mystery to this tale is suggestion. Hawthorne never explicitly tells the reader what is happening; his skillful use of suggestion allows for multiple interpretations of the story to exist, with no particular one being wrong. Foremost,
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