AP English III
3 Dec. 2012
The Minister’s Black Veil
In “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Reverend Hooper covers his face with a black veil, and his worshippers are confused and scared about why the minister is wearing it. The black veil makes life harder for him, but he still will not take it off. Hooper’s veil stands for sin, and also represents the fact that all humans’ sin, and no one ought to be judged for it.
Reverend Hooper’s black veil is a symbol of secret sin and the sinning nature that all humans have. Sin is mentioned various times throughout the play, and the first day Hooper wore the black veil he preached on secret sin: “The subject had reference to secret sin” (Hawthorne 268). The veil was a symbol of Hooper’s own private sins, and it is also a way to show his congregation that everyone sins: “The veil was a symbol of the minister’s own private sin” (Montbriand). Hooper’s own private sin it the fact that he had an affair with the woman whose funeral he attended. Mr. Hooper is thought to be seen walking hand in hand with the girl’s spirit at her own funeral. A woman in the funeral procession says that she “had a fancy that the minister and the maiden’s spirit were walking hand in hand” (Hawthorne 270). A very renowned critic, Edgar Alan Poe, stated that “Hooper’s veil was a badge of shame for the illicit relationship he had with the young lady whose funeral is described in the story” (Montbriand).
Another part of the story supporting the theory that Mr. Hooper had an affair is his confrontation with Elizabeth, his fiancé. Elizabeth is offended that Hooper will not show her his face because they are practically married: “Do away with this scandal!” (Hawthorne 272).
When Elizabeth leaves Mr. Hooper out of hurt for him neglecting to show her his face one last time, he says nothing but smiles sadly as he always does: “Amid his grief, Mr. Hooper smiled to think that only a material emblem had...