Irony In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Black Veil

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s parody “The Black Veil,” the reader is introduced to Minister Hooper as he steps out with a black veil over his face to begin a church service. The immediate response of confusion and fear takes over his congregation. Minister Hooper uses the veil as a symbol for the hidden/secret sins that each one of us carries. The irony in this is that the veil is just that, a double folded crape. Hooper’s congregation proved to be harsh and judgmental of the minister not fully understanding why he was veiled. “I don’t like it,” muttered and old woman, as she hobbled into the meetinghouse. “He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face” (Hawthorne 637). Here Hawthorne could be eluding to the Puritan belief…show more content…
This is very different from Hawthorne’s story, Minister Hooper veiled his face though no one asked him to and that is what scared his congregation. For Hooper the veil embodied sin itself, upon exposing it, he was claiming himself guilty, but his intention was for all of his congregation to wear one, so that they too could understand the truth; judgement will come for everyone because we are all sinners. This cost Hooper dearly, he felt isolated he lost friends, Elizabeth, and the rapport he had with the children. He became lonely, a recluse, fearful of his own image. Even though he suffered in self- loathing it could also be said that he fell into the sin of pride because he could have ended his suffering and Elizabeth’s had he removed in private the veil in her presence. There was one positive effect of the veil “Among all its bad influences, the black veil had the one desirable effect, of making its wearer a very efficient clergyman” (Hawthorne 642). People in his congregation eventually learned to respect the minister even if it was out of fear, when they faced death the minister was called on: “Dying sinners cried aloud for Mr. Hooper, and would not yield their breath till he appeared; though ever, as he stooped to whisper
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