Hawthorne’s Use of Allegory

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"The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a short story that was first published in the 1836 edition of the Token and Atlantic Souvenir and reappeared over time in Twice-Told Tales, a collection of short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The short story narrates the events that follow Reverend Mr. Hooper's decision to start wearing a black veil that obscures his full face, except for his mouth and chin. Mr. Hooper simply arrives one day at the meeting house wearing the semi-transparent black veil and refuses from that moment on to take it off, which leads to the loss of his fiancée and isolation from the world. Mr. Hooper even goes as far as to insist on burial in the black veil. Yet, what is crucial to note are Mr. Hooper's last…show more content…
This particular idea serves to underscore even further the hypocrisy of human nature and emphasize the ironic aspects of the short story.
The themes of the story serve to explicate the universal nature of all human beings. These themes include, for example, shame, guilt, the nature of sinning and morality. With regard to shame, whilst it is true that the veil covers Mr. Hooper's face, it does at the same time expose the nature of sin as one embedded deep inside humans. In other words, the veil exposes the sin existent in the world which makes the townspeople grow more and more uncomfortable. These feelings of discomfort are thus the result of being faced with the shame within. The more one has learned to ignore the sense of shame at the sins committed, and the darkness surrounded by, the more he or she is incapable of facing Mr. Hooper. This leads the discussion to the second theme in the short story: guilt's hidden nature. Indeed, most townspeople are faced with guilt suppressed upon looking at Mr. Hooper as they have never had to face a physical form of their guilt. However, Mr. Hooper's didactic usage of the veil serves as a constant reminder of that which is rather forgotten: sins committed. Using this as a reason, many of the townspeople chose to ignore Mr. Hooper instead of facing their own veils. However, the Reverend convinces the townspeople that everyone shares sins no matter what attempt is made to
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