The Minister's Black Veil Essay Example

It is a Sunday in-1836 when our story begins in the village of Milford, Massachusetts. A  bell ringing loudly is summoning the villagers to the church for worship. This Sunday seems to be a routine Sabbath day until the sexton obtains a glimpse of Mr. Hooper, the clergy. To the surprise of Sexton, Mr.Hooper has a black veil over his face, and the veil is made of a light semi-transparent fabric that covers his forehead and hangs down over his face. 

The wearing of the mask has a troublesome effect on the people of Milford. The reader probably is curious about the meaning of the mask and there are a few ideas of exactly what the mask represents. The mask could represent the secret sin of the minister but also the secret sins of the people. Hawthorne used many literal and metaphorical examples throughout this literary work. (Ostrowski)

First, the text gives a clue to the meaning of the mask when Parson Hooper preaches a very powerful sermon about the Universal of Secret Sin. The congregation can not explain why his sermon seems to be different, on this Sunday, but all the congregation felt that the preacher had crept upon them, behind his awful veil, and knew of their secret sins. (Levine, 370) Secondly, the mask affected the attitude of people and an old woman said, ”He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face.” Another woman said, ”How strange, that a simple black veil, such as any woman might wear on her bonnet, should become such a terrible thing on Mr.Hooper’s face”.(Levine, 370)

The people are very curious about the meaning of the veil but they are afraid to question Hooper directly. There is just one person that has the determination to find out the meaning of the veil and that is plighted wife, Elizabeth. Hooper and Elizabeth have a good conversation about the veil and finally, Elizabeth commands Hooper ”Lift the veil at once, and look me in the face.” Mr.Hooper tells her that he will never remove the veil and she replies, ”Then farewell.” There will never be any more attempts of removing the veil and to find out the secret it was supposed to hide until the end of this story.

Lastly, Mr. Hooper is surrounded by several people in the death-chamber of the old preacher. Among these people is the Reverend Mr. Clark, a very energetic, young man of God. He tries to remove the veil, but surprisingly Mr. Hooper gathers enough strength to prevent the young preacher from removing the veil and makes it clear that all of them should be wearing a veil.

In conclusion, challenge the idea of good versus evil and scrutinize the values of personal truth and self-sacrifice. (Owl Eyes) The veil represents that we might try to hide our sins, even the secret sins, but God can see them. Also, the Puritans probably saw the reflection of their spiritual self, and many did not like what they saw.

Work cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Minister's Black Veil.” Owl Eyes,

Levine, Robert S., et al. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. W.W. Norton & Company, 2017. 

Ostrowski, Carl. "The Minister's "Grievous Affliction": Diagnosing Hawthorne's Parson Hooper." Literature and Medicine, vol. 17, no. 2, 1998, pp. 197-211. ProQuest,




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