Minister's Veil Essay

Submitted By 95twinsroyal
Words: 1018
Pages: 5

Research shows that the average person lies three times in a thirty minute conversation, that’s every ten minutes. While everyone would like to see themselves as honest, truth is, they aren’t. People lie all the time; little lies, like “I’m fine”, “That was my last piece of gum”, etc. Everyone sees the little white lies as harmless. Exaggerations make stories more interesting. Small lies to prevent hurting someone’s feelings are worth it. Simply concealing the truth is a lie. It may not be much, but a lie is still a lie, and a lie is a sin. The Minister’s Black Veil, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrates the concept of sin and how people react to it. In the story, all people are guilty of having their own secret sin.
Although some people view the veil as representing the minister’s sin, perhaps a better way to look at it would be as representing sin not only of the minister, but the other townspeople as well. Mr. Hooper was a good preacher, but something changed when he put on the veil. “But there was something, either in the sentiment of the discourse itself, or in the imagination of the auditors…The subject had reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide from our nearest and dearest, and would fain conceal from our own consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect them”(753). In the quote, the author is illustrating how people were suddenly more aware of sin in general. For example, when Rev. Hooper put on the veil, people started to pay more attention to what he was saying. They wanted an explanation as to why he was wearing the veil so they listened more intently. His message was about secret sin, the kind you hide from all friends and family and even yourself, which made the audience reflect on themselves and their own secret sin. His sermon made everyone aware that they too, were guilty of sin, which no one wants to accept. Thus, if everyone was becoming aware of their personal sin, they too are sinful. Everyone in the town, no matter age or gender, was guilty of sin. Mr. Hooper’s first sermon, while wearing the veil, was unnerving to the audience. “Each member of the congregation, the most innocent girl, and the man of hardened breast, felt as if the preacher had crept upon them, behind his awful veil, and discovered their hoarded iniquity of deed or thought” (753). Since every member felt as if the minister suddenly knew their every thought and deed, they were obviously guilty of something. The way the sermon made the townspeople feel illustrates that they each had something to hide. The townspeople weren’t only suddenly aware of their sins, but even evil thoughts. Innocent people don’t typically feel uncomfortable when people begin to discuss sin. Therefore, everyone had some kind of sin that he was trying to hide.
The minister wasn’t the only one in the town who had a “black veil”, he was just the only one who symbolically wore one. Because of the veil and the fact Mr. Hooper acknowledged his sin, more people trusted him. “His converts always regarded him with a dread peculiar to themselves, affirming, though but figuratively, that, before he brought them to celestial light, they had been with him behind the black veil.” (757). The townspeople who came to him to be converted obviously acknowledged that they were sinful. Based on Mr. Hooper’s example, they see that they could be sinners and saved at the same time. For them to be able to convert, they had to be sinners and have their own black veil that they were keeping hidden. Hence, Mr. Hooper wasn’t the only one with secret sin in the town.
Other sinners in the town turned to Mr. Hooper. Though he was ostracized because of the black veil, he became a