Comparing The Minister's Black Veil And Ethan Brand, By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Throughout the years, many people have discussed the topic of sin. However, one man took it upon himself to write many tales about sin and what it entails, as well as the perception of others in regard to it. This man, Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote several short stories, each withluci their own insight into his view of sin. In his stories The Minister’s Black Veil and Ethan Brand, Hawthorne paints a picture of sin in a way that he believed reflected reality and the true nature of mankind. To do this, Hawthorne does not need any shocking villains or dashing heroes, but merely the actions and words of regular people. Hawthorne describes sin throughout his books as not something reserved only for the truly evil, but a constant in everyday life. In …show more content…

Ethan Brand follows the titular Ethan Brand, who has recently returned from his quest to find an Unpardonable Sin. Upon being questioned as to where he found this sin, Ethan points to himself, calling it “a sin that grew nowhere else.” (5) This statement points towards one of Hawthorne’s main ideas about sin in his writing – that sin exists within people, instead of only coming from outside. Furthermore, as the story goes on, Ethan receives offers from several people telling him to partake in drinking from a particular black bottle. This insistence, along with their general poor attitudes, displays once again how sin exists in everyone, and not just those who seek sin like Ethan Brand. In fact, this behavior causes Ethan to reconsider and have him doubt “whether he had indeed found the Unpardonable Sin, and found it within himself.” (6) This extreme reaction to the sin of others shows Hawthorne’s view on how although some may have sinned strongly, it does not exclude others from participating in their own sins. However, Ethan Brand later reignites his spark and believes that he has indeed found the Unpardonable Sin, and ends up looking back on his life, gazing upon his loss of empathy and pity as his quest for the Sin caused him to stray further and further from the rest of mankind. Interestingly, Brand seems to no longer remain a human at this point, and instead becomes a fiend …show more content…

In both of these stories, each main character has their own sin – Hobbes with his secret sin, and Brand with his Unforgivable Sin. By pointing out and making these character flaws noticeable, Hawthorne crafted flawed characters that show the nature of sin and how it can affect a person’s entire life. Additionally, Hawthorne makes sure to show that despite the flaws of the main characters, all of the supporting cast had their own sins, which Hobbes called out on his deathbed as the dark veils that everyone wore, while the ones in Brand’s tale caused him to even reconsider the extent of his own evil. These examples show an illustration of how despite the main characters had their own personal sins, it did not prevent everyone else around them for also being just as much of a sinner. All of these stories also show the general reactions of people in regards to admitting sin as well, with Hobbes receiving a negative reaction immediately before even revealing the reason for his veil and Brand being labelled a madman and having his claims of finding the Unforgivable Sin ignored. This reaction reflects life, as many people judge others quickly without taking time to think about their actions. Throughout his writing, Hawthorne gets into the deep inner workings of people – how beneath the surface of every person, no matter who, they each have

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