I think that, as a general rule, humans love to categorize things. We like to organize things. We like things to fit into our neat, little organized view of reality, whether it’s a can of soup we buy, a movie we watch, or a person we meet. Everything needs to fit into some sort of category and if it doesn’t fit, we create a category for it to fit into. Categories give us certain expectations about the thing we are dealing with. Stories are no exception to this idea. For example, a romance novel should be romantic, obviously; but we would assume that it also contains some sort of conflict for the hero or heroine to overcome, which eventually leads him or her to their true love, or some sort of happiness at the end. But what effect do these expectations have on our interpretation of a story? Since my goal with this essay is to attempt to categorize the “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, I will need to investigate what characteristics are present, in hopes that these characteristics will lead me to some sort of definitive answer about the genre of this story. First, we must look at the elements of the story; tone and diction are very important when trying to categorize a story. The tone of the story is somewhat gloomy, and quite isolated. We are drawn into this small town’s world, as they become increasingly terrified of Minister Hooper and his strange veil. And the way the congregation of Hooper’s church see the veil when he first wears it makes it seem as though it was something much more sinister than a “simple piece of crape” (938). As he preaches about “secret sin, and those mysteries which we hide from our nearest and dearest” (938), no one can see his face, and thus everyone feels as though Hooper is looking at them, directing his sermon at them: Each member of the congregation, the most innocent girl, and the man of hardened breast, felt as if the preacher had crept upon them, behind his awful veil, and discovered their hoarded...
Cited: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Minister’s Black Veil.” The American Tradition in Literature. Ed. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. 12th Ed. Vol. 1. Toronto: McGraw Hill, 2009. 937 – 945.
Perkins, George, and Barbara Perkins. Footnote 1 to “The Minister’s Black Veil”. The American Tradition in Literature. Ed. George Perkins and Barbara Perkins. 12th Ed. Vol. 1. Toronto: McGraw Hill, 2009. 937 – 945.
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