Ministers Black Veil

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Zachary Trichinotis
American Literature
Mrs. Cormack
27 March 2012
Everyone wears a veil

In certain periods of history writers have written about dark things. The reasons may not be known but the effects are certainly felt. Romanticism occurred in the early 1800’s, which was when, “the Ministers Black Veil” was written. The romantic era was an artistic, intellectual movement. Nathaniel Hawthorne is usually associated with romanticism, due to his ties with Puritan New England. He was born in Salem, Ma which was where the Salem Witch trials occurred. The elements of the veil are said to be ones of mystery and suspense. In “the Ministers Black Veil,” Hawthorne shows how someone who is misunderstood can become alienated from his society. Mr. Hooper’s failure to elaborate on the reason he wears the veil separates him from his own community.

The way Hawthorne creates a sense of alienation is dark within itself (Alex). The veil is a gothic element that creates an uncanny, unsettling effect (Mont). The veil represents his alienation; it does not cause it (Mont). The veil creates a sense of separation, even in a crowd, although he’s there, he’s alone. The reason he wears the veil isn’t to separate himself, but the reaction he receives from putting it on removes him from the normal routine he has become used to and thrust him into a world of loneliness. There are many other concepts that run through this story.

There are many undertones in this story. The aspects aren’t just with the minister but with everyone around him. This is proven by their reactions to his lectures about secret sin. The point can be made that they’re upset because of the veil, but the argument is that they are really afraid of the darkness of secret sin the minister speaks of. The veil causes terror, not because of its literal appearance, but the truth it represents; secret sin is universal (Alex). All humans are incarcerated in the shadows of their own veil. For this, we need to talk...
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