Nathaniel Hawthorne stories are known to contain elements of mystery and uncertainty that is why his story “the Minster’s Black veil” is best analysed in terms of reader response. Hawthorne chose to not have any direct explanation for the actions of his characters giving it to the readers to interpret the way they wish even if he did have a certain message. The fact that there is no direct and final conclusion to the reason behind the minister’s decision to wear the black veil has caused critics to debate this story through the centuries, resulting in many different theories. Some have believed that Hooper actually committed a great sin and have debated on what he could have done that was so horrible that he resorted to something as extreme, as wearing this black veil. Others believed that the focus of the story is not on what caused the minister to wear the black veil, but more on the effect the veil has on the minister and the people around him. Some believed that the story was meant to be vague; critics should not be trying to find only one true meaning or message in this story. There are some critics that dislike the story because of its indirect message which is hard to understand, but most have praised this as one of Hawthorn’s great works.
The story begins with the minister appearing before his congregation on a Sunday morning, this is when he is first seen with the black veil, it covers most of his face except the mouth and chin. The town’s people immediately start gossiping, some say that the reverend has gone mad; others believe that he is hiding a shameful sin. Some readers may believe that the town’s people were right and that the minister was hiding something. The veil covers his eyes; they say that the eyes are a window to the soul so the fact that he is covering them may suggest that he really did comment a sinful act and is trying to hide his shame from the world.
In the afternoon Mr. Hooper attends a funeral for a young woman. The Minister leaned over the body; if she was alive she would have been able to see his face, but one mourner claimed that “... the corpse had slightly shuddered...” (Hawthorne 4) upon seeing the Ministers face and another mourner claimed “that the minister and the maiden’s spirit were walking hand in hand” (Hawthorne 4). This encounter makes a connection between the women and the minister with could suggest that the reason he is wearing the veil has something to do with her, it also makes the minister a symbol of death and darkness since even the dead shudder at his sight and he is walking hand in hand with a spirit. After this he attains a wedding where he brings a grim atmosphere to what should be a joyous occasion. Mr. Hooper toasts the couple, but ends up seeing his own reflection in the glass, the sight frightens him and he spills the wine and leaves. All this may lead a reader to believe that he is wearing the veil to hide a secret sin, one so heinous that he would be afraid of his own reflection.
Although, many wonder why Mr. Hooper chose to wear the black veil, some readers see that this is not the central point of this story. In fact that’s the point, the town’s people are making it a bigger deal then it is which reflects their inherent sin and hypocritical nature. While they were spreading rumors about what crime the reverend might have committed, they overlooked their own crimes and sins. The reverend became someone that they called upon during times of need, but was completely avoided during times of joy. He becomes an outcast simply because of this veil, which demonstrates how shallow and unappreciative these people really are.
The Minister already symbolizes someone that as to bear the sins of the community since he listens to their confessions. It could be possible that the minister chose to make the ultimate sacrifice and bear their sins in...
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