Separate From the World
Shame is something that everyone must face in times of failure. Failure in a minister’s life can bring shame not only to themselves, but also to the congregation to whom they are responsible for. This shame can be relieved by forgiveness from God, family, and the friends of the sinner. Forgiveness is an integral part of what it means to be a Christian. Those who are familiar in the Puritan beliefs know it is not given freely by the congregation. The inability to receive forgiveness for sin makes it insufferable for Mr. Hooper, in Hawthorn’s “The Minister’s Black Veil”, to face his parishioners without wearing a black veil which conceals his face.
The veil invokes many different curiosities by those who see it. It is first seen as the young minister, Mr. Hooper, is summoned to the Sunday morning service. The parishioners have many initial thoughts that go through their heads. There are ideas that their minister is hiding some hideous sin or he is simply just shading his eyes form the bright light. Although there are so many questions about this new piece of apparel, no one in Mr. Hooper’s congregation asks him why he now wears this black veil. Mr. Hooper is described as, “a gentlemanly person of about thirty, though still a bachelor”, not one of a man who is outspoken, or the kind to draw attention to himself. Mr. Hooper continues on with his morning message as if nothing is different, by the end of the service there are those that think their preacher has gone “mad.”
The topic of the veil’s origin is not brought up to him personally until Elizabeth confronts him about it. Elizabeth is described as Mr. Hooper’s, “plighted wife”. The author, although early on describing him as a bachelor, has now added a new dimension to Mr. Hooper. Elizabeth struggles with Mr. Hooper to attain the meaning of the veil. Even with her, his “lover”, he will not unveil his...