Psychological Terror in “the Minister's Black Veil”

1578 WordsFeb 24, 20107 Pages
I think that, as a general rule, humans love to categorize things. We like to organize things. We like things to fit into our neat, little organized view of reality, whether it’s a can of soup we buy, a movie we watch, or a person we meet. Everything needs to fit into some sort of category and if it doesn’t fit, we create a category for it to fit into. Categories give us certain expectations about the thing we are dealing with. Stories are no exception to this idea. For example, a romance novel should be romantic, obviously; but we would assume that it also contains some sort of conflict for the hero or heroine to overcome, which eventually leads him or her to their true love, or some sort of happiness at the end. But what effect do…show more content…
For the Earth, too, had on her Black Veil. 940 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. But however terrifying the veil is, I think this story lacks any visceral or shocking
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