The Haunted Mind Analysis

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In this world, there are certain issues that most people would rather avoid confronting, and at the top of that list is one a particular event that inevitably affects everyone: death. There were, however, a select few that accepted death – embraced it, even. Nathaniel Hawthorne was an author who explored this topic extensively through the myriad short stories he wrote in his lifetime. Initially, they were all published anonymously and separately in magazines and the like, which were very well-received by the public. He then collected them into multiple volumes and re-published them, hence the title Twice-Told Tales. This selection includes the stories The Haunted Mind, The Minister’s Black Veil, and The Wedding Knell, which all address common…show more content…
In The Haunted Mind, the author personifies feelings such as sorrow, disappointment, fatality, shame, and remorse after “A funeral train comes gliding by… Passion and Feeling assume bodily shape, and things of the mind become dim spectres to the eye” (Hawthorne 2). This funeral train contains only negative sensations, including death itself. According to Hawthorne, such a dark procession can be found in every person’s mind, plaguing the subconscious. This symbolic funeral train has revealed that death is necessary and impossible to forget completely. Additionally, a dark symbol is repeated throughout The Minister’s Black Veil, when Mr. Hooper tells his wife, “I am bound to wear [this veil]… both in light and darkness, in solitude and before the gaze of multitudes, and as with strangers, so with my familiar friends… This dismal shade must separate me from the world” (Hawthorne 8). Mr. Hooper is saying that he is being punished, and as a result, the world has alienated him. Despite becoming separated from the world, he still refuses to remove the veil and is firmly resolved to face penance for his sins, since he is riddled with guilt. The black veil constantly shrouding his face symbolizes that nobody can be pure, and that everyone has the capacity for evil. Moreover, an example of personification in The Wedding Knell is when the bridegroom appears, but it is said that “No garb but that of the grave could have befitted such a deathlike aspect… The corpse stood motionless, but addressed the widow in accents that seemed to melt into the clang of the bell, which fell heavily on the air while he spoke” (Hawthorne 15). This corpse-like groom symbolizes death, though he is still alive and able to speak. He tries and succeeds to pull the bride into the same state, proving how contagious despair can be. The bride’s subsequent misery demonstrates that she is just as sinful and
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