Analysis: The Minister's Black Veil

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“Why do you tremble at me alone? . . . Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children screamed and fled? . . .” This excerpt from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story entitled “The Minister’s Black Veil,” published in 1846, paints a picture of a man being shunned by his own friends and community. What catastrophic event led them to abandon their relationships with him? That’s the thing; there wasn’t a tide-turning affair or tragic accident or glorious revelation that caused this. The only source of their fear of him was a piece of black cloth he draped over his face; a symbol they misinterpreted. Too often do people in the modern world choose to administer judgment point blank, without taking time to really evaluate the meaning behind…show more content…
In paragraph fifty-seven, the minister states on his deathbed, “. . . when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! On every visage a Black Veil!” Here he is clarifying that the veil has been a symbol representing sin; the sin we try to hide from those around us. Rather than covering up his transgressions, Father Hooper opted to “wear his heart on his sleeve,” or be open about his iniquities. Further emphasizing the importance of his message, he declares that only a man who makes no attempt to obscure his faults and shortcomings from his neighbors may cast judgment on his acts and call him a monster for masking his face all these years. “Tremble also at each other!” he exclaims earlier in the paragraph, reprimanding them for assuming in place of analyzing and interpreting his intents and purposes for the veil. As can be seen, had the people of Milford chosen to really ponder the essence of the veil, they would have become versed in the weight of their…show more content…
Do we not do this still today? We hold our views to be superior or more sensical when compared to the standpoints of those around us, that is to say we practice ethnocentrism. Misusing conflicting vantage points on life as excuses in addition to turning away from our neighbors, we conclude that our prejudices against others are justified, but they’re not. Father Hooper was gawked at because he was different - when in reality we all are - and, even though he faced many psychological trials because of the veil, he was proud of it. He hadn’t done anything wrong to deserve such treatment from his community, yet as it says in paragraph forty-seven of the text, “Mr. Hooper [was] irreproachable in outward act, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; kind and loving, though unloved, and dimly feared; a man never apart from men, shunned in their health and joy, but ever summoned to their aid in mortal anguish.” Due to the veil and the reactions of his peers, Father Hooper’s reputation is forever altered; tarnished by a black cloth draped over his
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