The Minister's Black Veil Essay

761 Words4 Pages
In The Minister’s Black Veil, the veil holds different meanings for the minister and for the people in his congregation. The congregation starts out confused about the meaning, and even though they get hints of the meaning over the years, they never understand it fully, and their obsessive fear of the minister continues even though he remains a good and harmless person. The minister seems to know what the symbolic meaning of the veil is, although he only reveals it slowly in bits and pieces until the climactic scene on his deathbed. He, too, views the veil with fear, because he sees it as a symbol of the secret sin in himself and everyone. In addition to the meaning the veil holds for the congregation and for the minister, it is important to consider the effect of the veil on the relationship between the two. Hawthorne seems to be saying that the minister’s perception of the sin in all people puts up a barrier between himself and everyone else and ruins his life. At first the veil causes confusion among the people in the minister 's congregation. They speculate that he had developed some mental issue, that his eyes could not handle the light, or that it was simply a random impulse. This confusion soon turns to great fear and horror. The author writes that people are shocked, that they wonder whether their minister is even behind…show more content…
When talking to his fiancee, he says that like most other mortals, he has “sorrows dark enough to be typified by a black veil.” He also says that he may be covering his face “for secret sin,” and asks,“what mortal might not do the same?” In his last statement before he dies, the minister asks why everyone is afraid of only him and his veil. He says that they should look the same way at each other and that he sees “on every visage a black veil!” In these, his final words, he makes it clear that everyone is hiding sin and
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