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"The Minister's black veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story of a life of a clergyman Hooper which leaves the reader with the feeling of sacrifice but also a sort of a personal tragedy.

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Introduction

Roksana Cynert "The Minister's black veil" "The Minister's black veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a story of a life of a clergyman Hooper which leaves the reader with the feeling of sacrifice but also a sort of a personal tragedy. The reader becomes acquainted with the protagonist at the crucial moment of his life, the moment in which he decides to wear a black veil on his face. The very beginning of the story is a portrait of a happy everyday life of a village - merry children are willing to make fun of a graver's gait, spruce bachelors are looking sidelong at the pretty maidens and a sexton is tolling the bell - and its light-hearted mood contrasts with that of the rest of the story. It gives us a taste of what the parson's life was like before his decision to wear his black veil, i.e. happy with the inhabitants of the city showing him the signs of respect. With the decision to wear the veil starts a period of alienation in his life. As early as after his first sermon in the veil his alienation starts: "old Squire Saunders, doubtless by an accidental lapse of memory, neglected to invite Mr. Hooper to his table, where the good clergyman had been wont to bless the food, almost every Sunday since his settlement". ...read more.

Middle

It proofs how important the veil is for Hooper but does not explain the reason for him to wear it which has to be read between the lines. The reason why parson decided to wear the black veil is revealed in his first sermon in it: "The subject had reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide from our nearest and dearest and would fain conceal from our own consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect them". With Hooper's decision to wear the veil he confesses the abstract fact that he is sinful. Accepting the philosophy of redemption does not change the fact. But although he is the only one who puts on "two folds of crepe" other people seem to wear it too, the only difference is that their veils are invisible. The people do not show their true faces in their everyday lives but "there is an hour to come (...) when all of us shall cast aside our veils" says Hooper in his words to Elizabeth suggesting our sins will be revealed before omniscient God during the Judgment Day. In this context the role of the veil is to act like a curtain between the parson and eternity. The task of Hooper's first sermon in the veil is to encourage the parishioners to confess they are sinful as well. ...read more.

Conclusion

His crucial task as a minister is to bring his congregation into full communion with God however he does not accomplish it. If wearing a black veil was to help him in achieving that, it was totally unsuccessful. Hooper is also unsuccessful in his attempt to convey an important message to his faithful. This message is revealed in his words in the deathbed "Why do you tremble at me alone? (...) Tremble also at each others (...) I look around me, and lo! on every visage a black veil!". With his words Hooper tries to indicate the fact of concealment in his community and criticize it. However, the parishioners misread the message and speculate there is something wrong with Hooper himself and groundlessly accuse him of committing a sinful deed. The black veil focuses the attention of the villagers on the person of Hooper instead of themselves. Behind the invisible veils on their faces Hooper's parishioners hide their true visages. They are barriers and obstacles in communication between people who do not show their true faces when they are together, even if they are two people who love each other (it is important to notice, that the parson does not take the veil off during the wedding nor when he talks to his beloved Elizabeth and she asks him to do so). The veil is everywhere, masks and concealment is everywhere. ...read more.

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