Metaphor in The Minister's Black Veil

The Minister's Black Veil 4
"let the sun shine from behind the cloud..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

Although Elizabeth does not know the purpose of the veil, this line serves as a metaphor for how Hooper hides his own goodness by wearing the mask of sin. She wants simply to see his face; however, readers understand the veil doesn’t simply hide Hooper’s face, but rather it represents the hidden sins of all humankind.

"All through life that piece of crape had hung between him and the world; it had separated him from cheerful brotherhood and woman's love and kept him in that saddest of all prisons his own heart..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

Here we recognize the metaphorical significance of the veil: when one keeps a hidden sin on their heart, they lose themselves and they lose themselves and miss out on what life has to offer.. Whether the veil symbolizes Hooper’s own sin or all of humankind’s hidden sins does not alter the metaphor, because he dies misunderstood and saddened by the burden of hidden sins.

"Such was its immediate effect on the guests that a cloud seemed to have rolled duskily from beneath the black crape and dimmed the light of the candles..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

A reoccurring symbol in the story is the contrast between light and dark, with light symbolizing goodness and dark symbolizing evil. Here, darkness overcomes “the light of the candles,” perhaps indicating how darkness can overpower light.

"The black veil, though it covers only our pastor's face, throws its influence over his whole person and makes him ghost-like from head to foot..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

Since the veil symbolizes hidden sins, we look for the influence of the veil to have a metaphorical meaning that contributes to the lesson of the parable. This seems to be a metaphor for how secretive sins can change the appearance, emotion, and entire personality of the sinner.