‘‘The Minister’s Black Veil’
“Faith, as the wife was aptly named, thrust her own pretty head into the street, letting the wind play with the pink ribbons of her cap”(Hawthorne 1). A very interesting and lustful start to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”, begins a journey of communal sin from Puritans such a Faith. Hawthorne is clearly making a statement, especially since it’s the very first lines that Faith and others surrounding in the community around them are the true sinners.
In the Minister’s Black Veil and Young Goodman Brown hypoctrics that go unspoken in the parable are clearly the true sinners of the two stories. According to Voigt, Hawthorne’s reasoning behind true sinners and betrayal to faith is expressed in his knowledge of the old testament and the prophets because he expresses that through his characters (Voigt 338). ‘‘The Minister’s Black Veil’’ is more than it appears on the surface and though it seems the center of attention is Hooper, you can see the true sinners are the community of Puritans looking in a different perspective.
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The reasoning behind how to determine who is sinning in the short stories can be depicted from a Christian point of view. The true sinners in these symbolic and devious stories/parable, are the civilians living in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Minister’s Black Veil” and “Young Goodman Brown” who judge those in their community is contemporarily comparable through hypocritical judging against the very idea they live by.
The work “Minister’s Black Veil” is embodied with symbols and clues that point us toward who is morally the true sinners in the story. First, the name of the work is subtitled ‘A Parable’ which is a purposeful message from Hawthorne, saying we should gain lessons and more out of the story for our real life. The work similar to the Parable of Jesus because it says so in the footnotes and offers an insight into ways Hawthorne can improve the audience’s eyes (Miller 20).
This Christlike viewpoint helps aid wrongful choices made by all the characters in the work including the community. Next, this is a “parable” that Hawthorne is trying to pitch about Mr. Hooper’s seeking to preach with the wearing of the black veil. The ironic meaning of the Minister’s Black Veil is to introduce the condemnation of secret sin and to expose those who do so (Stibitz 185). This hidden sin Hawthorne is saying is expressed through character of all shapes and sizes. The veil forces Reverend Hooper to see the world in a different perspective.
Hooper is allowed to foresee the judgemental nature of his community. This new perspective forces Hooper to see all the darkness and blackness of the work. This lens displays the darkness around him which is hypocritical judgement. “Hawthorne chose the object of a veil to show the disconnect a veil has from Man’s condition”(Santangelo 64). Lastly, this new idea is considered absurd to the people who don’t understand it, which universally seen as sinful on the community’s hands.
The Black Veil can be seen as a symbol of alienation from the community you live in. The Black Veil is a representation of hiding one’s true nature and Hooper disrupts substituting a veil for his actual face. Hawthorne suggests that the minister feared the glance of the dead girl and Hooper look over the coffin with a disclosed face (Voigt 338). This unwanted judgement proves the wrongful sin of those in the community.
The instinctual reaction of the community show their true colors, and express the pure born hatred and sin against those that are different from them. First, the community’s reaction to Hooper’s veil was catastrophic and the common forms of communal life are threatened and broken down. “Some gathered in little circles huddled closely together, with their mouths all whispering in the centre; some went homeward alone, wrapt in silent meditation” (Miller 17). This gathering of others in the community can be seen as a group of gossip girls in middle school, talking down on a girl who isn’t part of the group.
Hawthorne does a great job in exposing the casting down of the townspeople to Hooper. This transfer of lifestyle for Hooper reveals the true values of the Puritans in the town. Next, the communal life of the people of Milford will never be the same again after the altercation with the black veil (Miller 22). The plot Hawthorne made up is a series of reactions by the townspeople and the Puritan lifestyle at the time. The sermon makes the hearts of Hooper’s church be scared and fearful.
This scared feeling is only shielding the sinful nature of those in the town and is agreed upon others that it is right. Lastly, Reverend Hooper remembers that what he is doing in his Puritan society is wrong. If you had been living in this satirical society Hawthorne shows that the common people such as ourselves would act the same as the Puritans and find that what Hooper’s doing is wrong. The people in the community are inherited with the thought of “anxiety of sin”.
The division between Hooper and men and God is seen as wrongful on his part. He is seen as betraying his religion and he is sinning (Stibitz 185). Religion is a key lifeform of those living in the community because they are Puritans. The fact that they are religiously based but are still allowing sin to take over their lives. In the view of the townspeople Hooper at the end of the novel can be seen as the wrongful person because he is seen as an Antichrist (Stibitz 184). Any denial of the townspeople’s views is seen as Antichrist. However, this a hypocritical way of thinking because calling someone different or wrong because they don’t agree with you is the opposite of the very morals you stand by.
Throughout the story the activities of the community are seen as disabled, transformed, and suspended by Hooper’s wearing of the Black Veil. This denial of your true nature is the actual sin and must be called out. Though it might not seem it Hawthorne is exposing the true sinners of the community who is actually the community itself. The Veil shows that all men are sinful and all of their sins cut off from each other. All sins are eventually negated by those who do the same as them. Hawthorne presents the beliefs that men try to hide or rationalize his most private thoughts or guilt (Stibitz 182).
“Hooper continues to stand abnormally alone in the community” (Stibitz 189). Even though he stands alone in his own community he is the only morally correct one and truly standing by what a true Christian would do. It is ironic that he is the only one who is acting as a Christ like figure and abiding by a thought that he truly believes in. He stands by this even if all the people around you do not agree with him. This obstacle can be very hard and near impossible to do, yet he still does it.
This exclusion is what forms Hooper into the man he is. The realization that the community around him is wrong is similar to To Kill A Mockingbird because nobody believed in Tom Robinson. While the whole Alabama community around him segregated him because of his physical differences, Tom grew stronger as a person and was able to combat with those who oppressed him and cast him out. Moreover, for Hooper this cloud that blinds him from seeing the truth is actually over the villager’s eyes. This skewed view of the world is what Hawthorne is trying to put across and develop a reasoning on why people like this are wrongful for their judgment.
According to Voigt the minister was not the victim of shame but rather Reverend Moody who accidentally killed one of his loved ones. Hooper’s wearing of the black veil lent strange power to his wrongdoings according to the people in his community (Voigt 338). This considerable amount of sin by the community is what cast Hooper out as a person. Coming from a Christian viewpoint you are able to see why Hooper is seen as the hero of the story and all the other townspeople who gathered to speak down on him are the people who Hawthorne tells us to look down upon. The works of “The Minister’s Black Veil” and “Young Goodman Brown” are great explanation into how Jesus and martyrs should be exemplified by because of their viewpoints on standing by your beliefs.