The Minister’s Black Veil

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The Minister’s Black Veil

The Minister’s Black Veil is a short narrative that was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and first published in 1832. The short story summarizes the life of Reverend Hooper from the day he starts covering his face with a black veil, to his death. The veil is wrapped around his forehead, and it conceals his face except for his mouth and chin. The story reveals to us Mr. Hooper’s previous weakness, his amiability. This is a weakness that was known by the church and his parishioners.

Early in the story, we are told of a group of representatives sent by the church to confront Mr. Hooper about his veil. Despite being aware of Mr. Hooper’s weakness, the delegation was ill-prepared for their task. The church deputies were unable to bring up the topic of the veil, and they returned to their constituents, having achieved nothing.

This scene delved further into the ‘power’ that the veil seems to possess. The delegation was not afraid of Hooper himself, but the veil. The scene also shows the impact that the veil has had on Mr. Hooper’s mannerisms. After inviting the representatives, he sits down in total silence, for a considerable time, allowing uneasiness to fill the room and his visitors.

In a conversation with his wife, Elizabeth, Mr. Hooper reveals that everyone is wearing a veil. This conversation further elevates the significance of the scene mentioned above. The implication is that the rest of the world wears an invisible veil to cover their sorrow or a secret sin, but Mr. Hooper was confident enough to make his veil visible. This explains why the delegation sent to his home, his wife, and the other people in the community were uneasy; because the black veil was a reminder of their invisible veils and their secret sins.

Work Cited

Levine, Robert. The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter ninth edition, Volume 1. WW Norton – College, 2012.

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