An Analysis of The Minister's Black Veil, a Story by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Do you really know what the classic story “The Wizard of Oz” is about? I’ll give you a hint, it’s notabout some girl flying over a rainbow, playing with living scarecrows, and battling witches. Eachcharacter in the story symbolizes something much deeper. It was a metaphor of a young girl leaving herhome facing the harshness of life on her own. The moral of the story is that no matter how wonderful aplace may be, there is no place like home.

“The Wizard of Oz”, with all of it’s morals, and meanings wasan allegory.

Just like “The Wizard of Oz”, the story “The Minister’s Black Veil”, by Nathaniel Hawthorneis too an allegory, a story with a moral and filled with symbolism from cover to cover. In this storythese were several important symbols, including the congregation, Parson Hooper himself, and, of course,the black veil.

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The congregation was an extremely curious bunch. When Parson Hooper entered the church he wasthe subject of every single person’s attention.

Gazes that were fixed on the black piece of crepe werethose of amazement, fear, and wonder. “Few could refrain from twisting their heads toward the door” (Hawthorne 221). Society’s normal reaction to change is curiosity.

The people’s talks Sunday morningwere all centered on why Mr. Hooper wore the strange veil. “The people hurried out with indecorousconfusion, eager to communicate their pent-up amazement” (Hawthorne 221). The congregation symbolizescuriosity and judgementality because the people were introduced to something they were unfamiliar with, the black veil. The pastor also makes an allegorical implication. His representation of mankind evolves when heconceals his sin with the black veil.

As with some people, Mr. Hooper believes that he can be rid of hisguilt through suffrage. And if I cover it (his face) for secret sin, what mortal might not do the same” (Hawthorne 224). The pastor also signifies sorrow. His melancholy ways show how sad he truly is. “With self-shuddering and outward terrors, he walked continually in its (veil) shadow, groping darklywithin his own soul” (Hawthorne 225). Mr. Hooper is an important symbol in the allegorical meaning ofthe story.

The veil that reverend Hooper so reverently wore throughout his life was a symbol of evil andisolation. It can be said, that as humans we associate black, and hiding with evil. The reverend, byhiding his face with the black piece of crepe caused people to believe that he had done something wrong. “There was nothing terrible in what Mr. Hooper said, at least, no violence, and yet, with every tremor ofhis melancholy voice, the hearers quaked” (Hawthorne 221). The hiding of the reverend’s face by the veilcaused people to assume that he had done some evil deed and they therefore isolated him from theircliques.

On any normal Sunday, Mr. Hooper would be invited to spend time with many people; however, theveil took him away from the congregation, they feared that which they could not see. “He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face” (Hawthorne 220). It can therefore be concluded that a modest veil made a good man seem evil, and henceforth isola!ted him from the people for whom he cared so deeply.

As can be seen, a simple story can easily represent much more than is obvious. Within this oneparticular tale, one can see that the three aforementioned items carry with them an allegorical meaning,greater than can be expressed in the story. The veil, the parson, and the congregation, all cometogether in the end to remind one to be wary of sin, for you must carry the burden for life.

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An Analysis of The Minister's Black Veil, a Story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. (2023, May 04). Retrieved from

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