In a community full of judgemental sinners one decides to face the truth. Throughout the short story “The Minister’s Black Veil”, Reverend Hooper was treated as an outcast for confessing to his sins. Although Hooper was doing the right thing in God’s eyes the community thought of Hooper’s sacrifices as evil. In “The Minister’s Black Veil”, Hawthorne portrays God as Hoopers greatest value as he examines the dignity, happiness, and relationships Hooper sacrificed for his relationship with God.
By wearing the veil Reverend Hooper lost all of his self-respect and dignity. Instead of questioning the reverend and the townspeople strayed from him assuming the veil was a symbol of sin and evil. “Our parson has gone mad! “cried Goodman Gray, following him across the threshold”(Hawthorne 176). Hawthorne showing a representation to his readers that explains the way Reverend Hooper’s reputation had changed as he was talked about among the community.
Throughout Hopper’s preaching Hawthorne shows the thoughts of the townspeople, “Mr. Hooper had the reputation of a good preacher but not an energetic one: he strove to win his people heavenward by mild persuasive influences, rather than to drive them thither by the thunders of the word”(Hawthorne 177). The community could not get passed the veil they indeed thought about it throughout the whole service. Hooper was before thought of as the most Holy but now was shown as a representation of evil because of the veil. The people lost all given respect for their priest.
Boone says, “But as long as Hooper exposes himself through the veil, the community places all their accusations on him, and he bears the responsibility for the community. He is their scapegoat”(Boone). As Hooper exiles himself from the community Boone focuses more on Hooper’s image and dignity through his decisions. The community judges Hooper based off of their own assumptions, rather than the true evidence of Hooper being committed to anything sinful. Hooper knowing that the community would focus more on the veil takes into consideration his dignity but makes a choice to worry about the most important things in life. The veil itself has been variously interpreted as the locus of human sinfulness, of Puritan revivalism, of religious absolutism, of misanthropic isolationism, of heroic self-sacrifice, of sexual fearfulness, and of indecipherable ambiguity”(Saunders). Saunders explains the true meaning of the veil. He states that the veil was variously interpreted. The thought of the veil brought into play mixed emotions from the people whether they approved of the veil or disapproved was their choice. Many disapproved of the veil leaving Hooper to be set as an outcast.
Hooper allows himself to lose his own dignity for the good of his people. Hawthorne represents the many things lost by Hooper wearing the veil. The reverend not only lost his dignity and happiness but lost his relationships with his community and his wife. As Hooper loses all connection with his wife Hooper still remains steady with his decision, “Lift the veil but once, and look me in the face,” said she. “Never! It cannot be! ” Replied Mr. Hooper. “Then, farewell”(Hawthorne 183). Although Hooper’s wife threatens to leave him for not removing the veil Hooper does not want to disregard the whole purpose of the veil.
Willing to face the consequences Hooper loses the relationship with his with his wife. Hooper remains strong in his relationship with God. As the people of the town run from him Hooper states, “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 eem 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! ”(Hawthorne 188). Hooper not only lost his wife but he also lost the respect and relationships of the townspeople. Although, Hooper has been so harshly judged but he chooses to stay strong and overlook the thought that he is alone. Deines states, “Hooper sardonically reflects on what might have been if not for the effect of the black veil, believing that the veil “must” be drawn between the most intimate the most immediate relation”(Deines).
Deines states that because of the veils unknown meaning and Hooper’s unwillingness to uncover its meaning the minister’s wife leaves him. Hooper reminds himself that the veil, although, it has already come between the congregation and himself must surely divide him from his closest relation, his love, leaving him, completely and utterly alone. “Although he feels “grief’ at losing her, he clearly perceives that he is choosing to sacrifice their relationship. His new, veiled persona is highly unlikely to win him future mating opportunities, moreover, and in the event it does not: he goes to his grave lonely and unwed, “separated … rom woman’s love” (50).
Deliberately he persists in behavior that is bound to have a negative impact on his direct fitness, and this clear”(Saunders). Saunders shows that even though Hooper felt grief in losing his relationships he found peace through his relationship with God. Hooper realizes what he is sacrificing but reassures himself by saying that the relationships were not important. Hooper is sure that what he is doing is indeed the right decision. Hoopers sacrifice of relationships shows how strong he is and also shows his main focus is God.
As Hooper made the decision to put the veil over his face the thoughts of all the happiness he would sacrifice never crossed his mind. Hooper questions why all of the townspeople change their thoughts of him when saying, “All through life that piece of crape had hung between him and the world: it had separated him from cheerful brotherhood and woman’s love, and kept him in that saddest of all prisons, his own heart: and still it lay upon his face, as if to deepen the gloom of his darksome chamber, and shade him from the sunshine of eternity”(Hawthorne 186).
Hooper is alone and has no one there for him. Hooper realizes that he is going to have to grieve his hardship alone. Hooper begins to lose faith and starts to feel sorry for himself, “Oh! You know not how lonely I am, and how frightened to be alone behind my black veil. Do not leave me in this miserable obscurity forever! “(Hawthorne 183). Hawthorne shows the change in Hooper’s attitude as he makes the sacrifice of losing his happiness. Hooper begins to believe that wearing the veil and facing his sins was the wrong decision. Boone says, “But the veil exposes more than Hooper lets on.
Instead of seeing Hooper’s donning of the veil as an ethical move that causes his congregation to be better people by inspiring them to take note of and perhaps even reveal their hidden sins, the wearing of the veil can be seen as an ethical move in which Hooper takes on the sin of the entire community”(Boone). Boone believes that Hooper’s veil represents him confessing his own sins and also taking the blame for the sins of his community. Hooper takes the communities happiness and places it over his own happiness, showing his altogether willing, humble character.
Hooper chooses to sacrifice his entire life for his relationship with God. Hooper explains the true meaning of the veil, ” 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! “(Hawthorne 188). As Hooper wears his veil others throughout the town still struggle with their own relationship with God.
Hooper’s relationship with God is the meaning of his whole existence. The townspeople judge the veil, “Among all its bad influences, the black veil had the one desirable effect, of making its wearer an efficient clergyman”(Hawthorne 185). Although, the veil, at first, was thought of as evil the townspeople’s thoughts changed. Hooper was now recognized as the priest who did the right thing by confessing his sins. “There rolled a cloud into the sunshine, an ambiguity of sin or sorrow, which enveloped the poor minister, so that love or sympathy could never reach him. His own antipathy to the veil is well known: “he never willingly passed before a mirror, nor stooped to drink at a still fountain, lest, in its peaceful bosom, he should be affrighted by himself. ” But because of “his mysterious emblem-for there was no other apparent cause—he became a man of awful power over souls that were in agony for sin”(“Six Tales”). Hooper was shut out of his community and the people in the communities lives. Hooper sacrificed his life for the community so that they may live a life without great sacrifice.
Hooper saved himself and the community from ruining their relationships with God. Throughout the short story, Hawthorne provides evidence of Hooper’s sacrifices ultimately shaping his character. Even when all hope is gone Hooper still faces his sacrifices, “Though reckoned a melancholy man, Mr. Hooper had a placid cheerfulness for such occasion, which often excited a sympathetic smile, where livelier merriment would have been thrown away”(Hawthorne 179). Hawthorne shows that even though the community does not support him he can always find a way to support them.
Hooper’s commitment to God was his main focus, “Never it cannot be! “(Hawthorne 183). Hooper refuses to remove the veil. Hooper’s character becomes stronger and he remains consistent with his thoughts of staying committed to God through his hardships. Montbriand says, “More importantly, Hooper cannot be accused of neglecting his congregation. As a Puritan minister aware of the calvinist notion of predestination, he knows that his parishioners are predestined to either heaven or hell: there is nothing he can do to help them”(Montbriand).
Montbriand shows that Hooper as the minister should not be ostracized for defending the community. Hooper knows the outlook of the community but looks past it to become a new minister. Minister Hooper changes for the communities own good. In “The Minister’s Black Veil”, Hawthorne portrays God as Hooper’s greatest value as he examines the dignity, happiness, and relationships Hooper sacrificed for his relationship with God.
“Some scholars have found that the focus of the story is not on what motivates Mr. Hooper to wear the veil but the effect the covering has on the minister and his congregation”(“Explanation of: ‘The Minister’s Black Veil’ by Nathaniel Hawthorne. “). The main idea of the short story is to convey Hooper’s as well as the community’s reaction to the veil. Hawthorne uses Hooper’s sacrifices to reveal Hooper’s character throughout the process of wearing the veil. In a community full of judgemental sinners one decides to face the truth.