The Minister’s Black Veil
Father Hooper wears a black veil over his eyes and nose, never revealing
the reason of the veil to a soul. At times the sexton would insinuate a reason
behind the veil but never revealing the answer to the mystery. Father Hooper is
a very imaginative and creative individual to innovate the idea of wearing a
black veil to express an idea. He is angry towards the response of the veil to
his parishioners, since they treated him differently with the veil compared to
without it. Most of the parishioners are clueless to why he wears it and some
try to imagine why he would ever want to wear it, but there are only ideas and
arguments to why a minister would wear it.
One of the reasons behind the veil might be secret sin. Father Hooper
might have committed a very bad sin which he does not want to unveil to anyone.
Instead of not telling anyone the sin he shows it clearly on his face with the
aid of a black veil. This black veil might relieve tension in his body that has
accumulated due to his sin. In the story, Father Hooper says that everyone
wears a black veil, meaning that everyone commits secret sins without revealing
them to anyone. If you do not express your secret sin you would be keeping
stress and tension locked up inside you, but if you express it, the stress and
tension will be relieved.
Another reason behind the veil might be sorrow. Deep, dark sorrow for
someone or yourself might be expressed and shown with the help of a black veil.
By wearing the black veil for eternity, you are exhibiting great love and sorrow
for someone or yourself. If the black veil was removed, the sorrow and love
would be dead. This might be how Reverend Hooper expressed the veil.
Father Hooper might have also used the veil as a friend and a device to
test Elizabeth’s love for him. The black veil might have given Mr. Hooper
friendship if he was lonely and without a mate. He could test Elizabeth to see
if an object would come between them and their love. The Reverend told her if
she was his, the black veil would then be removed. If she was not his, the
black veil would stay on his face and be his friend for eternity. The black
veil came between Elizabeth and Father Hooper, causing him to wear it for
The author Nathaniel Hawthorne shows how one symbol can be interpreted
into many ways and lead to many sub-topics. He does not give the reason behind
the black veil because he wants the readers to use their imagination and think
of their own reason behind the veil. Although Father Hooper never answered the
mystery of the veil, there are many theories behind it. I could not think of
one theory for the black veil without thinking of others, therefore I listed all
three of my theories.