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Historical Context in The Minister's Black Veil

The Puritans were a powerful religious and political force in the 16th century. They emerged when certain Protestants were not satisfied with Henry VIII’s Church of England. After being banished from England for their subversive beliefs, many traveled to the Americas and set up small colonies in New England. Those that separated from the Church of England became known as Puritans because their efforts to restore the church to its “purest” state caused them to strictly adhere to biblical teachings.

Historical Context Examples in The Minister's Black Veil:

The Minister's Black Veil

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"Milford..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

The story takes place in the Puritan town of Milford, Massachusetts. The Puritans were a powerful religious and political force in the 16th century. They emerged when certain Protestants were not satisfied with Henry VIII’s Church of England. Those who segregated became known as Puritans because they wanted the church to return its “purest” state. Hawthorne uses the Puritans and their strict adherence to biblical teachings to provide contextual framing for the story.

"one woman of delicate nerves was forced to leave the meeting-house..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

Hawthorne may be alluding to Jonathan Edward's sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," given in 1741 in Enfield, Connecticut, which affected his congregation so profoundly that a few women fainted at the horrific images of sin Edwards used to convince his listeners that they were one small step from damnation.

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