Short Fiction

The Minister's Black Veil

When a small town’s Puritan minister dons a black veil that covers his face and refuses to take it off for the rest of his life, an ominous air is cast over his parish. While this seemingly benign action is not cause for alarm, his parishioners take this action as a threatening sign. His fiancée breaks off their engagement, and dying sinners insist that he is the only minister who can redeem them. Hawthorne’s use of symbolism and extended metaphor create a parable that transcends the written page. Written in a gothic style and haunting tone, “The Minister’s Black Veil” challenges the ideas of good versus evil and scrutinizes the values of personal truth and self-sacrifice. The veil becomes a symbol that is able to explore repentance, morality, sin, and the deep seated doubts within human conscience. The minister’s parishioners see the veil as a reflection of their interior selves. The veil comes to represent the original sin that condemns all men. The minister may wear the veil on his face, but all others wear the black veil on their souls.

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