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Plot in The Minister's Black Veil

Plot Examples in The Minister's Black Veil:

The Minister's Black Veil

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""I had a fancy," replied she, "that the minister and the maiden's spirit were walking hand in hand."..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

This observation fuels some of the congregation's belief that Reverend Hooper's veil symbolizes a specific act of sin—a relationship with the maiden whose funeral he is attending. The sight of Hooper walking with the dead maiden also establishes a supernatural element, an aspect of the Gothic sub-genre that Hawthorne routinely incorporates in his works.

""Dark old man," exclaimed the affrighted minister, "with what horrible crime upon your soul are you now passing to the judgment?"..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

This is a clear indication that the minister attending Reverend Hooper believes, as some of Hooper's congregation believe, that the veil is a symbol of some specific sin or sins committed by Reverend Hooper. It is never directly settled in the story whether he wears it for a specific sin or to represent all the hidden sins of people.

"Oh, you know not how lonely I am, and how frightened to be alone behind my black veil..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

Hooper makes it clear that he feels the veil has cut him off from the fellowship of others. More importantly, he is as afraid as everyone else. The townspeople believe the Minister has created his own loneliness and fear voluntarily, and they don’t understand that he wears the veil as a symbol for all of their sins.

"I, perhaps, like most other mortals, have sorrows dark enough to be typified by a black veil..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

This statement has been interpreted in two possible ways by readers and literary critics. First, Hooper may refer generically to the hidden sins of all men. Secondly, Hooper could be referring to his specific personal sins. That he never actually discloses his precise meaning creates a tension in the story that is never resolved to anyone's satisfaction.

"the corpse had slightly shuddered..."   (The Minister's Black Veil)

This and the later image of Reverend Hooper and the dead woman walking together lead some of the congregation to believe Hooper wears the veil to symbolize his sinful affair with the woman. However, without direct indication of the sin, readers can still interpret the veil to be a representation of all the hidden sins of the community.

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