Symbolism in the Minister's Black Veil

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To start with, there is a brief overview of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” in order to provide useful background for further analysis of the symbols on the grounds of Puritanism. It is another short fiction set in Puritan times, however unlike his other works centred around single symbol, yet meaningful. As the title suggests, the symbol is a black veil worn by the minister, reverend Mr Hopper. The story begins with the scene where all the people are gathered in front of the church on Sunday morning awaiting their clergyman. In bewilderment, they see the minister’s face covered with the black veil which creates commotion among them. There are speculations about the origin of the veil, nevertheless nobody dares to ask. Mr Hooper’s sermon is on secret sin, as the Puritans were obsessed with this theme. The veil induces in minister such emotions that the sermon is the greatest ever and causes in parishioners anxiety and at the same time disgust as it reminds and makes them aware of their own sins. The scene might be compared with that in the novel Scarlet Letter, where reverend Dimmesdale, suffering guilty conscience delivers the speech which makes all the people astonished. Regarding people’s attitude towards Mr Hopper, they commences to be reserved, for instance an old lady Squire Saunders with whom he has dinner every Sunday does not invite him after the sermon. The situation presents true nature of Puritans, namely their intolerance and obsession over sin. In the afternoon, the reverend officiates the funeral of a young woman during which the veil still covers his face, however there is a scene in which he stand over the coffin from which his face is visible. Parishioners realise that if the woman was alive, Mr Hooper’s eyes would have met with hers which they interpret as unification of their spirits: "the minister and the maiden's

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