The Minister’s Black Veil A Short Story By Nathaniel Hawthorne
Plot Summary • Reverend Hooper, esteemed priest, dons a black veil • Veil represents secret sins revealed • Townspeople react with shock, and a variety of other reactions • Caused people to come to gawk at him • None could accept this new eccentricity • Even his betrothed leaves him • Hooper wears the veil until he dies, being buried with th representation of secret sin
Unfamiliar Terms • Adverse - opposed or opposing • Erred - to be mistaken or incorrect • Censure - expression of disapproval • Amiable - friendly, sociable • Remonstrance - protest • Abashed- ashamed • Synod - any council
Terms cont. • Plighted - to pledge in engagement to marry • Placid - calm/peaceful • Steadfastly- fixed in one direction • Prodigy - something abnormal • Deputation - appointing a person to represent someone
ILLUMINATION "Why do you tremble at me alone?" cried he, turning his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. "Tremble also at each other! Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children screamed and fled, only for my black veil? What, but the mystery which it obscurely typifies, has made this piece of crape so awful? When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a Black Veil!" His veil was a symbolism of his secret sin and everyone was afraid of him, but he knew that everyone had secret sin. People feared him, yet they should have feared everyone because they all had sinned. Everyone placed their own idea of what the veil meant based on their own fears, making it more than it was.
ILLUMINATION Cont. She withdrew her arm from his grasp, and slowly departed, pausing at the door, to give one long shuddering gaze, that seemed almost to penetrate the mystery of the black veil. But, even amid his grief, Mr. Hooper smiled to think that only a material emblem had separated him from happiness, though the horrors, which it shadowed forth, must be drawn darkly between the fondest of lovers. By wearing the black veil, assumptions of fear were made that separated him form others, including the one that he loved. Sin can destroy lives even if it has no outward appearance.
Connections of Hawthorne • Settings • Puritan society • Characters • Strange preachers • Dimmesdale is set apart by his mysterious poor health • Hooper causes unrest by his mysterious black veil • Plot • Scandal • Hester Prynne’s adultery causes much talk • Hooper’s veil causes similar distress • Writing style • Dark romantic characteristics • Focus on human error • Not uplifting story
Connections to Life • Homosexuals:In the story Mr. Hooper has a hard time of being accepted because of the black veil he wears, just like how in our society homosexuals deal with the same issue. • Religion:Many different religions require certain beliefs. Mr. Hooper claimed that wearing this black veil attire was because it separated his body and soul with death and the veil stands for a symbol of mortal life from God.
Walking in spirit The scene depict the funeral of a young woman, where Mr. Hooper gave a sermon. Some of the townsfolk remember it appearing as though the two, dead woman, and veiled preacher were walking in spirit, communing in soul.
Connections to Life • Guilt and Secrets: Elizabeth and Mr. Hooper end their engagement because she feels uncomfortable with him wearing the black veil. She refuses to see how its appropriate and gives him an ultimatum between the veil and her. He chooses the veil and leaves her behind. Couples split when they don’t agree due to trust issues.
Connections to Life • Discrimination: The people of Milford didn’t accept the wearing of Mr. Hooper’s veil. The kids ran away from him and he was constantly the subject of their conversations. • Addiction:Mr. Hooper has an obsession with wearing this veil. In the story, Reverend Clark comes to Father Hooper to remove the black veil, seeing as he has lived behind it every day. However, Mr. Hooper refuses to remove the veil saying it would "reveal the mystery of so many years.“ Just like many people in this world have addictions, whether its drugs, sex, alcohol or any other fetish. They become in denial with their issue, just like Mr. Hooper was with his veil.
Discussion questions • What were you thinking about as you first read about the minister’s veil? • Strange to see • Startling and scary that the minister would do such • Brings the question of why he wears the veil • Perhaps a disfigurement or some other shameful feature?
Discussion questions • Why do you think the minister dons the veil? • First impression is a facial disfigurement • Did he suffer and injury? • Later impression is that it is a symbol for his sin • Shame for sin causing him to veil his face?
Discussion Questions • What is with Mr. Hooper’s “sad” or “melancholy” smile? Hawthorne mentions this many times. Why is he smiling like this and so frequently? • Sadness due to his knowledge that he is misunderstood • People don’t understand his need to wear the veil • His efforts to explain the veil are ineffective • He smiles sadly rather than try to explain again
The Rift over the Veil This scene depicts Elizabeth, Mr. Hooper’s fiancé demanding of him that he remove his veil. When he refuses, she storms out the door, while he sadly reaches for his beloved, who doesn’t understand his vision of life, and need of the veil
Discussion Questions • What is one question you would ask the author about the minister and his veil? • The real reason for the veil? • Why is he so ashamed or upset? • He wouldn’t even show his betrothed • Why did he not have the veil removed at death?
Discussion Questions • What is the significance of the topic of the first sermon Mr. Hooper gives with the veil on? • To explain the reasoning behind the veil • To talk of peoples’ hidden sins • Revelation of these sins change opinions of a person • His veil changed how he saw himself and how others saw him