Stylistic Devices In The Minister's Black Veil

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In literature, rhetoric devices are used to add dimension, meaning, and depth to a text. Eric Warner and Graham Hough, the editors of Strangeness and Beauty: An Anthology of Aesthetic criticism, states that, “symbolism in literature really is: a form of expression” (page 242). Literature is seen as a form of communication for writers to convey their ideas. Symbolism provides a text to be read at two separate levels. The first level would be read superficially since interpretation is only done at surface level. The second level is achieved only after recognition of symbolism and then the deduction of the underlying meaning.

The foundation of rhetorical criticism is to understand a writer’s intention; to recognize how they use stylistic devices and structure their work to create an interaction between reader and symbolism. Therefore, it would be most interesting to use rhetorical criticism to approach one of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s that criticizes the Puritan Society: “The Minister’s Black Veil (1837)”. This piece of literature is highly symbolic to not only heighten the dramatic effect, but to also
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Individuals need to recognize and accept that they have committed sins. This theme is symbolized through the use of the black veil. The story begins with the imagery of, “children, with bright faces,” and, bachelors watching, “pretty maidens, and fancied that the Sabbath sunshine made them prettier”. This immediately sets a positive atmosphere, which is used to contrast significantly against the entrance of Reverend Mr. Hooper. He is seen to enter donning a black veil, which, “concealed his features”, and gave a, “darkened aspect to all living and inanimate things”. Instantly, it can be interpreted that the veil symbolizes how sins are able to take an individual’s purity away. The idea that the veil provides a, “gloomy”, vision suggests that sins are able to cloud or impair a person’s vision
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