What Does The Minister's Black Veil Symbolize

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Symbolism in “The Minister’s Black Veil”

How can a single piece of cloth influence and change the expanse of a man’s life? “The Minister’s Black Veil”, a short story that is a perfect representation of this, was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is primarily about a minister who dons a black veil, causing conflict with those around him. Symbolism plays the major role in the story development of “The Minister’s Black Veil, influencing the other elements in the story and enhancing the message being expressed. In “The Minister’s Black Veil”, symbolism is progressively involved in the provocation of conflict. All the problem that occur in the story are a direct result of the main character, Parson Hooper, donning the veil. For example, Hooper’s …show more content…

It is this very point that Hooper is trying to make when he first wears the veil. While on his death-bed, Hooper remarks that he should only be deemed monster for wearing the veil only when man no longer hides his sin. Through this statement, he finally reveals the meaning of the cloth he wears; it represents those evil deeds men have hidden deep inside, away from the visible world. Supporting this, Sarah Wright remarks, “The veil...becomes an emblem of the passion for concealment that afflicts all humans to a greater or lesser degree” (Wright 167). With his last spoken words, Hooper emphasizes that everyone has a form of secret sin. He says, “[He looks]around [him] and lo! on every visage a black veil” (Hawthorne 307). This was Hooper’s legacy, to prove that even though they do not wear a black veil, everyone has done evils of the darkest nature, known only by God and themselves. The symbol of his veil is the focal point of the theme and plays a part in contributing to the Puritan setting. Through the use of symbols, Hawthorne exhibits the Puritan attitude toward change in his story. At this period in time, those belonging to the Puritan religion were not exactly prone to abandoning tradition. An old woman in the story states, “He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face” (Hawthorne 300). Her statement is a perfect example of how behaving in an

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