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Published: 21-11-2019

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Conflict Between the Individual and Society in "The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Comparable to most of Hawthorne’s performs, The Minister’s Black Veil not only exemplifies the issues of morality, repentance and sin within the setting of Puritan New England, but it also exhibits the familiar literary theme of conflict among the individual and society. By way of this type of social, psychological and moral conflict, Hawthorne criticizes the Puritan image of original sin, as well as the stereotypical views this certain society bears relating to Reverend Hooper.

In spite of Milford’s religious neighborhood, the townspeople are swift to judge and resent Mr Hooper with out ever directly enquiring him of the reason he wears the black veil to obscure his face. Although “one or two” are considerate enough to assume that it is only simply because his “eyes had been so weakened by the midnight lamp as to require a shade”, a majority of the neighborhood prefer severe accusations of his morality and mental health more than very good-judgment and practical questioning. It is evident that the society’s reaction towards Mr Hooper’s harmless black veil reflects their unfavourable qualities of ignorance and hypocrisy. Their antagonism nonetheless, does ironically bring them closer with each other as a community against the minister the veil “supplied a topic for discussion among acquaintances meeting in the street, and good girls gossiping at their open windows”.

Moreover, their reactions also prove the stereotypical views which they bear in regards to prominent – or a lot more especially – religious figures such as Reverend Hooper. As a minister, he is anticipated by the townspeople of Milford to be infallible free of sin or of in the end any wrongdoing. He is a sort of part model which the Puritan society rely on for guidance to purity and piety. Nevertheless, the “horrible black veil” acts as a mask of sin, an object that “could portend nothing at all but evil” in the eyes of society. It emphasizes what ever immorality the minister may have done rather than conceal it. It is intended to remind people of the original sin inherent in all of them a motive which regrettably has usually been disagreeable to the surrounding community, as individuals are constantly eager to hide their sins rather than admit it to the public. Therefore, the misconceived notion that the veil is worn to cover up some embarrassing sin is unacceptable to society, as Mr Hooper is, in their point of view, supposed to keep the countenance of sanctity and not to be like the ordinary, wrongdoing man.

In addition to this, the men and women of Milford seem to resent the fact that there is one thing of the minister that they do not know. It is achievable that as a religious, prominent figure, the neighborhood expects Mr Hooper to be open and sincere with them, rather than conceal some “secret sin” or a secret in common. Just as how folks of the contemporary age are usually demanding for a lot more details on famous celebrities, to the point where secrecy is meaningless, the townspeople are unhappy with the expertise which Mr Hooper appears to know that they do not.

Although Mr Hooper does practically nothing much more than put on a black veil, and continues his everyday duties as minister with out distinction, the community reacts with hostility “strange and bewildered appears repaid him for his courtesy”, and their faces are always “pale” with worry when acknowledging him. As a response to Mr Hooper’s unnatural decision, society tries to overpower him, in spite of his respected position as a minister. They are insistent on the removal of the black veil, without having considering its significance and submitting to the moral lesson it upholds. Even right after listening to a prayer of the minister’s which explains the veil’s representation of a religious idea, the community continues to reject it. It is since the folks worry the topic which the veil symbolically embodies: repentance, and their rejection of the veil signifies their refusal to repent. This proves that the society is misguided, as they overlook the reality that Mr Hooper is at a position of religious authority and tries to exercising their energy over him.

On the other hand, it seems that the minister is not completely the victim, as his adamant refusal to take off the veil, even when alone, highlights some stubbornness in his temperament. He is tangibly much more spiritual than other folks, and is a lot more devoted to the afterlife than his life on earth. However, with this profound resolution there is the obvious hint of arrogance in his quest for spiritual connection. Mr Hooper states that “this dismal shade need to separate [him] from the world”, as even though the world is such a detrimental place to reside in. It connotes the concept that he is far far better than the globe, or is deserving of a better setting.

Lastly, society makes use of the common argument of a sinking reputation and public judgments against the minister to coerce him into providing up the black veil. This is done via Elizabeth, Mr Hooper’s wife, who declares, “Beloved and respected as you are, there may possibly be whispers, that you hide your face under the consciousness of secret sin. For the sake of your holy workplace, do away this scandal!” This statement exemplifies the society’s unwarranted excessive care and concern over reputation and the judgment of other folks, even if it had been for the sake of religion. Mr Hooper contradicts this criticism with the modest excuse, “If I cover it for secret sin, what mortal may possibly not do the very same?”

In this style, the conflict among Mr. Hooper and society ensues all through the story, and his achievement at keeping the veil on even at death proves his victory against his adversaries. However, it is a bittersweet triumph, as the minister wins at the expanse of rejection and alienation from everybody else, even the lady he loves.

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