The Ministers Black Veil

“The Ministers Black Veil” Sin is an issue that every human being has to deal with at one time or another in his or her lifetime. Sin is dealt with in many ways. Some people try to hide their sins, some try to push them aside and some try to deal with their sins in a more conventional way. The largest place for confessing sins in the world is the confessional booth at a church. People go to tell their sins, and feel cleansed afterwards.

But what happens when a man who hears confessions day after day, sins himself. There is no confession booth for the man to go to. He must deal with his sin in his own way; a way that will leave him feeling cleansed. Mr. Hooper, in the parable, or short story, “The Ministers Black Veil” dawns a black veil to deal with his sins.

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The themes in the story that I chose to explore, were character, Mr. Hooper being a minister. And I also chose to talk about symbolism. The fact that Mr. Hoopers veil is black is symbolic.

The shuddering corpse is also a symbol of Hoopers wrongdoing. When Mr. Hooper puts the black veil on, he is no longer Mr. Hooper; he is a man that everyone is a afraid of. His relationship with Elizabeth is ruined because of his unwillingness to remove the veil. She cannot accept the fact that the minister must go the rest of his life without revealing his true face. After his first sermon, he did not go to Old Squire Saunders table to bless the food, as he had done almost every Sunday since his settlement. As Hooper is dying, near the end of the story, he is alone and says, “ avoided me, and women shown no pity and children screamed and fled..”(328), while others say he was “kind and loving, though unloved, a man apart from men”(327).

The theme of symbolism is demonstrated numerous times throughout the book. The veil itself is symbolic. Hawthorne could have chosen numerous items that would have had less of an effect on the townspeople. But he chose a veil, a black veil nonetheless. Black is the color of death, the color worn at funerals to represent mourning, grievance, or sadness, and this adds to what Hawthorne is trying to say about Parson Hooper.

Hawthorne even says “Earth, too, had on her Black Veil”(324). The veil covered his face, and by looking into someones face and eyes, a lot can be determined about a person. In the story, Mr. Hooper uses the veil to represent the hiding of his sins. Hooper believed that people would wear their veils on Earth, and then they would be removed at a time when our souls will leave our bodies and our secrets will be revealed (Judgment Day), just as brides wear veils and then remove them at marriage.

Another theme explored in the story is character. Hawthorne chose a minister to wear the black veil. It wasnt a sheriff or a farmer, but a minister. The character was very significant to his message. An ordinary person would probably not have been subjected to the scrutiny that the minister faced.

The fact that the wearer was a minister portrays the fact that even the most spiritual mortal beings have impure thoughts, or have committed impure deeds. Such actions are expected from every other person in the community, but only the best is expected from the well-respected minister of the village. Finally, I think that the funeral held on the day that Hooper dons the black veil is very symbolic and may prove the point that Hooper really did have a secret sin that he was trying to hide, or conceal from the public. It seems ironic that Hooper starts wearing the veil on the same day as the funeral. Possibly the donning of the veil on that particular day had something to do with the death of the young lady, or Hopper had some type of relationship with the woman. In addition, Hoopers encounter with the corpse seemed quite unusual.

While Hooper was bent over the body, “the veil hung straight down from his forehead, so that, if her eyelids had not been closed for ever, the dead maiden might have seen his face”(323). On onlooker observed, “at the instant when the clergymans features were disclosed, the corpse had slightly shuddered, rustling the shroud and muslin cap, through the countenance retained the composure of death”(323). The corpse was the only person to see Hooper with no veil on. Somehow the corpse saw something behind the veil. The corpse saw what Parson Hooper was trying to keep hidden. Somehow the corpse knew that what she saw was evil and it made her shudder, even in death.

Mr. Hoopers veil is a symbol of sin, and the dark secrets that we neither want to face ourselves or expose to others. There are various items throughout the story that symbolize the point what Hawthorne is trying to get across. The person wearing the veil is a minister, which shows the theme of character. The veil being black shows symbolism, and the corpse shuddering at the sight of Hoppers unveiled face, shows symbolism. All of these examples prove Hawthornes point. Bibliography WORKS CITED Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Ministers Black Veil.” The Bedford Introduction to Literature.

Ed. Michael Meyer. 5th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins, 1999.


The Minister’s Black Veil

The Minister’s Black Veil
Father Hooper wears a black veil over his eyes and nose, never revealing
the reason of the veil to a soul. At times the sexton would insinuate a reason
behind the veil but never revealing the answer to the mystery. Father Hooper is
a very imaginative and creative individual to innovate the idea of wearing a
black veil to express an idea. He is angry towards the response of the veil to
his parishioners, since they treated him differently with the veil compared to
without it. Most of the parishioners are clueless to why he wears it and some
try to imagine why he would ever want to wear it, but there are only ideas and
arguments to why a minister would wear it.

One of the reasons behind the veil might be secret sin. Father Hooper
might have committed a very bad sin which he does not want to unveil to anyone.

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Instead of not telling anyone the sin he shows it clearly on his face with the
aid of a black veil. This black veil might relieve tension in his body that has
accumulated due to his sin. In the story, Father Hooper says that everyone
wears a black veil, meaning that everyone commits secret sins without revealing
them to anyone. If you do not express your secret sin you would be keeping
stress and tension locked up inside you, but if you express it, the stress and
tension will be relieved.

Another reason behind the veil might be sorrow. Deep, dark sorrow for
someone or yourself might be expressed and shown with the help of a black veil.

By wearing the black veil for eternity, you are exhibiting great love and sorrow
for someone or yourself. If the black veil was removed, the sorrow and love
would be dead. This might be how Reverend Hooper expressed the veil.

Father Hooper might have also used the veil as a friend and a device to
test Elizabeth’s love for him. The black veil might have given Mr. Hooper
friendship if he was lonely and without a mate. He could test Elizabeth to see
if an object would come between them and their love. The Reverend told her if
she was his, the black veil would then be removed. If she was not his, the
black veil would stay on his face and be his friend for eternity. The black
veil came between Elizabeth and Father Hooper, causing him to wear it for

The author Nathaniel Hawthorne shows how one symbol can be interpreted
into many ways and lead to many sub-topics. He does not give the reason behind
the black veil because he wants the readers to use their imagination and think
of their own reason behind the veil. Although Father Hooper never answered the
mystery of the veil, there are many theories behind it. I could not think of
one theory for the black veil without thinking of others, therefore I listed all
three of my theories.


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