The Minister's Black Veil
Nathaniel Hawthorne expresses the flippant attitude of the Puritan people regarding individual variation of traditional practices in the New World through the story of The Minister’s Black Veil. Hawthorne portrays a minister cloaked in a black veil that the community finds mysterious, gloomy and abstract. The point that Hawthorne is making through the veil is that everybody, including Christians, have deep unconsoled sins. The narrator writes with a somber tone as he paints the picture of a Puritan society founded in hypocrisy and ridicule. Mr.
Hooper first reveals himself in the black veil at the Milford meeting-house. The people are taken aback at the sight, calling the preacher mad and claiming him to have become something awful. Many question if it truly is the preacher or just another strange minister, and some are even forced to leave the meeting-house due to their delicate nerves. Hawthorne is trying to convey how we, as christians, are too quick to judge others who differentiate from us. The congregation gave no thought to the reason or meaning of Mr. Hooper’s attire, instead they immediately attacked it.
In the same way, Christians can see strangers who are different from them, both physically and spiritually,and immediately judge them which is exactly opposite of the Bible’s call to love all. Mr. Hooper’s commitment to never lifting the veil and shrouding his face in abstract mystery forever is, at first, confusing to the reader. However, it’s made clear the reason Hawthorne never wrote it to be. Mr.
Hooper’s plighted wife begged and pleaded for him to remove the veil, but he did not. Even after threatening to and eventually leaving Mr. Hooper, he still did not withdraw the veil from his face. The point Hawthorne is making is that the veil resembles the fact that no matter what, you cannot atone for your own sins. Mr.
Hooper wears the veil no matter what showing that even he, a minister, cannot rid himself of past transgressions. Even unto death Mr. Hooper refuses to remove the veil from his face showing that only in the grace of God can one be released from his burdens. Overall, Hawthorne portrays the hypocrisy and ridicule of the puritan people towards Mr. Hooper as an example to Christians in the real world. They judge him for the black veil that represents his sins yet they have their own unchecked sins.
His congregation finds him alien and calls him insane, yet he still pushes his ideas behind the veil. Hawthorne exposes the truth that many dread to face, everyone has dark, secret sins yet they still ridicule and judge others for their own.