Ambiguity In The Minister's Black Veil

781 Words4 Pages
The ambiguity of the symbolism of the veil in Nathaniel Hawthorne's parable of The Minister's Black Veil, not only leaves the congregation guessing what the veil means, but it leaves the reader wondering what exactly the veil represents too. While giving a sermon on secret sins that people hide away, minister Hooper wears a black veil that conceals his face. He then wears it to a funeral and a wedding, making his congregation question what his motive is. The minister never takes off the veil even refusing to take it off at his death-bed. Throughout the story, Hawthorn offers indications of what the veil could symbolize, but there is never full disclosure of what exactly the veil represents, leaving readers to come up with their own hypothesis…show more content…
Soon after Hooper puts on the veil the congregation begins to act differently. “No one competed for the honor of walking beside him, however, and old Squire Saunders forgot to invite him home for dinner as he usually did.” Even though he is present at the funeral and the wedding, His veil creates a sense of isolation. “People ignored him when they were healthy and joyous, but they summoned him when they were dying.” Because his veil concealed Hoopers friendliness and sealed him off from the world, people became apprehensive around him in their joy, but in their grief and sadness, they felt comfort in the separation of the veil. At his death-bed, only Elizabeth, his old fiance was there, but as his nurse, not his wife. Hooper’s life after he started wearing the veil was so lonely and isolated he had no-one to comfort him at his death-bed. The veil is the most prominent symbol in the parable of The Minister's Black Veil. The veil represents the congregations doubts about salvation, the exposition of concealed sin, alienation, and Minister Hooper’s secret sin. Throughout the parable, Hawthorne provides clues as to what the veil symbolizes; for example, the words “I look around me and, lo, on every face I see a Black Veil!”. However, even with the subtle hints, the ambiguity of the veil still leaves readers and critics wondering what it
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