This essay will examine the thematic relevance to the Puritan setting and its impact upon the characters and their development in both "The Scarlet Letter" and the short story, "The Minister's Black Veil." These two texts detail an accurate portrayal of what I assume the Puritan community to represent. This is partly because of the Puritan background within the works, but also considering that the main characters of these are deeply rooted within the Puritan faith and are, in different ways, in the public eye and are under separate scrutiny as a result of such. Mr. Hooper, being a minister, is considered a beacon and an exemplar of faith and righteousness in his community. One bright Sunday morning, Reverend Hooper dons a black veil to his congregation and lectures on sin and its appearance, or lack thereof. His congregation is outraged but intrigued by his use of the symbolic sheath. Since his sermon focuses on the "secret sin" of his parishoners and the entire community, they are drawn to assume that Mr. Hooper, himself, carries with his a "secret sin" which he is hiding from underneath his veil.
Now Hawthorne titles this short story as a parable which leads one to conclude that the veil is used a not only a symbol of "secret sin" but a paradox. His congregation is so concerned and obsessed with his personal sins that they forget about their own; this was the intent of Mr. Hooper's veil: to cause them to reflect upon their own spiritual status and to confess their sins. But the Puritans, notorious for their pride within practice and fallacy within faith, ignore this allegorical costume and sensationalize his message. Because, after all, Mr. Hooper must be hiding SOMETHING underneath that veil of his... The second character under scrutiny by their community and this English major is Hester Prynne, a young woman forced to don a scarlet letter "A" to signify to herself and to her community that she is a marked sinner. The letter, much like the veil, is an...
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