The Original Sin in The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne

In “The Minister’s Black Veil”, Nathaniel Hawthorne explores the esoteric nature of original sin in the context of his oft-used setting of Puritan New England The Puritans were a religious sect in England that was infamous for its strict rules and morals, so much so that today, the word “puritan” is a synonym for a killjoy” The Minister’s Black Veil”, however, is not concerned with spoilsports, Instead, Hawthorne focuses on Gothic horror elements such as mystery, obsessions, isolation, and arcane beliefs in order to convey the true meaning of his story, As with many other Gothic works of literature, the author’s intentions are not very clear in ”The Minister’s Black Veil”.

Reverend Hooper makes his regular appearance with the congregation at the meeting- house with a mysterious black veil covering his face.

Immediately, it has an effect upon the townsfolk People begin to speculate as to the meaning of the veil, as Reverend Hooper delivers his sermon.

His sermon is about secret sin: sins that are kept from others, especially our loved ones. In fact, secret sins are so suppressed that we often delude ourselves into believing that the omniscience of God Himself cannot detect them. The members of the congregation are shaken to the core After becoming the obsession of the town, Hooper is abandoned by his fiancee Elizabeth because he refuses to remove the veil and divulge the meaning behind it. The people of the town begin to mythologize Reverend Hooper, claiming that we walked hand-in-hand with a spirit of a recently-buried young woman, Hooper’s veil is a mask that shrouds his foibles as a human being.

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This is rooted in the concept of original sin, a Christian doctrine, adopted by the Puritans, that one is born a sinner, One’s own humanity is a sin heavy enough to bear for life. Although the nature of the veil is ambiguous, I believe that it represented the religious guilt, a from of shame so indoctrinated that we cannot bear to share it with our closest of kin. The guilt one can undertake from living in a moral absolutist society is powerful and Hooper shockingly sheds light upon the darkness. And his idea worked, as dying sinners called out for his name and he converted many in the town to follow his preaching. This creates fissures within the town and within his own life, but the reverend is so committed to forming a kinship of sinners, that he is willing to take the veil to the grave.

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The Original Sin in The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne. (2023, Apr 20). Retrieved from

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