Themes In Hawthorne's The Minister's Black Veil



Like many writers of his time, Hawthorne emphasized man's inner
reality, and those thoughts and feelings which are not immediately apparent.
As he explored this internal nature, he not only found the source of
dignity and virtue, but also certain elements of darkness and violence. In
The Minister's Black Veil, these elements are treated as real and
inescapable forces in human existence. The unifying theme is the conflict
between the dark, hidden side of man and the standards imposed by his
puritanical heritage, and the psychological and practical implications of
this conflict. Hawthorne brings evil and unauthorized desire into the
circuit of puritan life, and thereby conveys a profound ...

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about a person's underlying characteristics and, therefore,
about his or her probable behavior. Thus, by wearing the veil, the minister
takes away the basis on which people can predict his behavior. This is the
main cause of the minister's isolation, although he is made unpredictable
already by the mere act of wearing the veil. Part of the frightening effect
of the veil derives from the knowledge that the person behind it can see
everything without being seen himself:

"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 this
awful veil, and discovered their hoarded inequity of deed or thought."

Because the members of the congregation cannot see where their minister is
looking, they imagine that they are being observed more closely than usual.
This notion is strengthened by the subject of the sermon, which "had
reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide from our
nearest ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 12/18/2003 09:45:13 PM
Category: Book Reports
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 890
Pages: 4

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