Sin In The Minister’s Black Veil And The Scarlet Letter



In some way or another, our past, the traditions passed down through our ancestors, and the values instilled in us by our parents, affect our own minds and perceptions of the world. We may choose to pass on these traditions or reject them for new ones, but the past always influences us. Nathaniel Hawthorne was no different than the rest of us. He writes in the first chapter of The Scarlet Letter, “But the sentiment has likewise its moral quality. The figure of that first ancesttor, invested by family tradition with a dim and dusky grandeur, was present in my boyish imagination, as far back as I can remember. It still haunts me” (pg. 126) As a writer in the hub of Puritan ...

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moral good of the community over an individual’s well-being. In this sense, the community/society remains the central voice over any individual’s thoughts and/or feelings. Puritans believe that humans are born sinners, enslaved by evil, and therefore, predestined in the eyes of God. God is the center of all, who chooses the elected few to be saved, so everyone must contribute to a moral well-being of the community in order to ensure that those elected few will remain pure enough for Heaven. The Puritans commune with God through the Bible, interpreting its doctrine word for word. The Bible is Truth, the Absolute law. Therefore, Puritans reason that it must be social doctrine as well. They must live the purist of lives to be chosen and saved by God. Election for salvation remains the sole importance of Puritan life. Any deviation from law affects the whole community’s welfare. On the other hand, Hawthorne also took great interest in the budding literary Romantic movement, ...

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and counteracts the Puritan with the Transcendental and portrays perception through multiple viewpoints. Each character represents his own wrestle between the past and the present beliefs, as well as the individual’s and the community’s spiritual communion. How do we cope between these two? And what do we make of our so-called sins? Hawthorne’s short story, The Minister’s Black Veil, provides a clear example of Puritanism and Romantic Transcendentalism at odds. We know from the author’s footnote that Hooper accidentally kills a friend. To account for his sin, which no one in the community knows about, he dons the black veil, “which entirely concealed his features, except the ...

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Added: 2/27/2007 10:53:52 PM
Category: Book Reports
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