Main Symbol in The Minister's Black Veil, a Short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The strongest symbolic piece in The Minister’s Black Veil is the black veil, which represents a power that minister possesses to make the parishioners feel vulnerable, The black veil strikes fear into a large majority of the minister‘s parishioners, who immediately assume he can expose their iniquities Nathaniel Hawthorne writes, “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 iniquity of deed or thought many spread their clasped hand on their bosoms.

There was nothing terrible in what Mr, Hooper said at least, no violence; and yet with every tremor of his melancholy voice the hearers quakedr”.

The extreme comparison between “the most innocent girl” and “the man of the hardened breast” demonstrates that everyone is affected; “they feel as if the preacher has crept upon them” and “many clasped their hands on their bosoms”, illustrating that the preacher has said something disturbing.

The shocked audience feels he can expose their “hoarded iniquities.“ Mr. Hooper’s melancholy tone makes the parishioners feel uneasy, although he has said “nothing terrible”. The tremor in his voice exacerbates their dread. What the minister is wearing also contributes to the parishioners’ distress. “His awful veil” symbolizes the fear he strikes into his audience. Readers get a perspective of the veil’s influence from a woman in Mri Hooper’s parish. A lady says, “‘How strange that a simple black veil, such as any woman might wear on her bonnet, should become such a terrible thing on Mr.

Get quality help now

Proficient in: Culture

4.7 (348)

“ Amazing as always, gave her a week to finish a big assignment and came through way ahead of time. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

Hooper’s face’!”

The woman does not believe that the veil is frightful in itself, which makes her think that it is strange that others are so afraid of a small change in the minister’s wardrobe. Like this lady, the reader does not know why the minister’s tone and the veil are alarmingr Does the minister have the power to expose the parishioners’ iniquities? Yes! The minister can reveal the secrets of his parish because of his role as a spiritual leader. The parishioners‘ abnormal behavior suggests the minister’s authority Some readers may argue that the black veil itself is responsible for the fear, but it’s the combination of Mr. Hooper’s role and the veil that causes the congregation to fear him, Therefore, the veil would not have the same effect unless worn by another member of the clergy. This is not true because if a member of the parish had worn the veil, others would simply label them an outcast Since Mri Hooper is a minister who has built a following it would be unreasonable to assume that Mr. Hooper would be labeled an outcast for his strange attire.

Before Mn Hooper used the veil, he “had the reputation of a good preacher, but not an energetic one: he strove to win his people heavenward by mild, persuasive influences” Hawthorne implies that before the preacher wore the black veil he gently persuaded his parish to abide by his teachings “rather than to drive them thither by the thunders of the Word.” With the addition of the veil, his teaching became so persuasive that the parishioners began to fear MriHooperi. The veil amplifies the authoritative influence the minister has over his parish.  In the short story, the black veil makes the minister’s practice more influential because of his status. Hawthorne suggests that presentation is important because depending on how you present yourself can have an affect on the way others perceive you. In this case the veil made Mr.Hooper more authoritative.

Cite this page

Main Symbol in The Minister's Black Veil, a Short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. (2023, Apr 20). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7