The Minister’s Black Veil: Literary Analysis
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “The Black Veil,” symbolizes how people react to people they do not understand. ”The Black Veil” tells the story of how a minister dons a black veil and it changes his life. We learn about human nature and how we change ourselves for different people.
The story opens with the minister entering the church to do his Sunday sermon and as all heads turned toward the minister the children began making lots of noise. They were all afraid of the veil. Nobody understands what the veil is supposed to represent. That lack of understanding is the reason why they fear it. In most instances, human nature dictates that people fear what they do not understand. The story continues with a funeral following the Sunday sermon where still the only person who can see the ministers face is the person whose funeral he is presiding over. As the procession leaves people think they can see the spirit of the minister, and the girl whose funeral he presided over, walking of hand in hand. “"Why do- you look back?" said one in the procession to his partner. "I had a fancy," replied she, "that the minister and the maiden's spirit were walking hand in hand."”
When the minister finished the first Sunday sermon wearing the veil, the crowd filed out in a hurry to converse about what they saw and what the veil could possibly mean. “At the close of the services, the people hurried out with indecorous confusion, eager to communicate their pent-up amazement, and conscious of lighter spirits the moment they lost sight of the black veil.” The veil made him seem very strange and most people are uncomfortable with strange. Strange usually means that something is wrong. This has always been a common misconception among society. People never really know everything about a person. And no matter how hard we try to control the urge not to judge people, it will always happen. Think about it, say a person is walking down the street and they are arguing with themselves while you are sitting there watching. Almost all people are going to sit there and think wow that person has issues. We just think they are a person in need of help, because they obviously have mental problems.
The story also displays that even those closest to us don’t know all our secrets. The minister’s wife in the story is the only person in town at this point who could possibly know what is under the veil. When she asks him to remove the veil and he refuses, she asks him to remove it again he repeats his answer and by the time they are done with the conversation she is in tears and is leaving him. She also shows the same fear the rest of the town shows when they look at the minister. “"Take away the veil from them, at least." Said the wife. "Elizabeth, I will," said he, "so far as my vow may suffer me. Know, then, this veil is a type and a symbol, and I am bound to wear it ever, both in light and darkness, in solitude and before the gaze of multitudes, and as with strangers, so with my familiar friends. No mortal eye will see it withdrawn. This dismal shade must separate me from the world; even you, Elizabeth, can never come behind it!"”