When an author (artist) can make his emotions, thoughts, ambitions, and inner self materialize, he has reached the dearest form of art, and the artwork can never mean as much to anyone as it does the one who created it. The artist does not own nor can he interpret completely due to the ever growing life-like attributes that the art/literature has adopted. Therefore, Hawthorne himself could not put into words an interpretation of The Minister’s Black Vail because the story its self is an interpretation of something living inside the author, a feeling that can only be felt.
In this literary figuration, portrait, there is not a moral. Nathanial Hawthorn used the whole story to create or incite a particular emotion, a type of “picture” that is like something else. In the minister’s black veil Hawthorne creates a partial “portrait” of his own emotions and soul with the focus being on the pain that isolation, alienation, and loneliness brings to some one such as an artist. An argument can be made in a few different ways, but it is best to determine the possible validity of the argument by attempting to view the piece in its entirety, considering all facetted parts of the story.
The intended idea was created in the story, the story was created by the man, and the man was created by society, these are all contributors to The Minister’s Black Veil, possibly as much as the words. To consider the text, The Minister’s Black Veil, without taking into account, the above stated, is to see the piece incompletely. One must consider the entirety of the story, unless one believes: “A story is a story, is a story. ” As a precursor, the common understanding needs to be reached that: literature is an art, and has many mediums.Order now
Medium is the material or technique with which an artist works (Dictionary. om), for example: photographs, pastels, canvas, paper, ink, etc… There are technical, recreational, and otherwise artistic uses for all mediums. A small child taking pictures of a puppy with a disposable camera, a reporter taking precise pictures of a sporting event, and an artist taking close-up pictures of the dew as it drips off a tree are all different uses of the same medium in photography. Literature can be created with many different intentions and reasons, but the attempt to determine that something is not art based off of the motivation or intentions of the artist is quit meaningless.
Some argue that each literary work constitutes itself and its relation to reality through a master metaphor that is co-extensive with its own body (Allen 1). One can find a good common ground for understanding without being quite as brood and definitive. It would be safer to stay on the idea, for now for sure, of fictional literature being art. This is what The Minister’s Black Veil is, art. One thing art is, is the representation of something else. The art itself does not represent its self, but something inside the artist.
The Minister’s Black Veil is abstract in that it is indirectly representing something within the author himself. What is inside the man that he would want the reader to see? What could the reader possibly experience and be able to relate to the author with, without even knowing it? Isolation and loneliness is what Nathanial Hawthorn wants a reader to feel when he reads The Minister’s Black Veil. Two relevant components of hawthorns art are, “multiple authorship” and his expected audience. Hawthorne had to find a way to communicate his unconventional ideas to a very conventional society.
Many of his sketches seem to teeter between the two objectives of open expression and strategic rhetoric. Thomas R. More, in his book a Thick and Darksome Veil, determines from looking at the media in which he published and their reception to his literature that there was a “writing down” and therefore a satirized component to hawthorns literature, especially his sketches. More says that Hawthorne “had to write both with, and against the contemporary parameters of taste” (Moore, 29). This is most evident in The Minister’s Black Veil with the footnote on the first page describing a similar event.
A man, eighty years before, had done pretty much the same thing as the fictional character, Mr. Hooper (Mcmichael, 632). This is with contemporary taste in that it was a story that was known, so Hawthorne was able to use it to portray his feelings of loneliness. More believed, “Hawthorne’s apparent stylistic simplicity is a veil, and that his outward adherence to Blair’s rules for ‘structure of sentences,’ masks a socially and culturally variant subtext” (Moore, 30) The second main component of Hawthorne’s literary art is the authors behind the stories.
Of multiple authorship, Peter Elbow wrote that “always there are two ‘authors’ from any text: the implied author as it were in the text and the actual historical author as it were behind the text” (Moore 29). As far as Hawthorne is concerned, this is very true. The “voice within” used by Hawthorne varied a lot and sometimes there are compounded voices behind the sketches and stories (Moore 29). One might wonder what voice or part of Hawthorne is coming out in The Minister’s Black Veil. Well, he experienced an enduring loneliness throughout his life according to many accounts of his life.
One particular book focuses on just the alienation, and isolation of Hawthorne’s life, the Lasting Loneliness of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Henry G. Fairbanks. In this book, Fairbanks attempts to account for Hawthorne’s whole life from the angle of his loneliness. He describes the separation of a man from God, nature, other man, and self and ties Hawthorne’s life to all of these. While The Minister’s black veil deals specifically with the isolation of an artist, Hawthorne experienced a reoccurring cycle of isolation throughout his early life, college, adulthood, and marriage (Fairbanks).
He was fatherless and was raised by solitary women, and had trouble fitting in until he died (Fairbanks 3). Fairbanks quickly makes the connection of loneliness to Hawthorne’s literature when he writes: “His awareness of loneliness was an obsession. The recurrence of isolation and insulation in his vocabulary almost constitute the trademark of his art” (Fairbanks, 3). Hawthorne himself wrote to Longfellow: By some witchcraft or other - for I really cannot assign any reasonably why and wherefore – I have been carried away from the main current of life, and find it impossible to get back again.
Since we last met,… , ever since that time I have secluded myself from society; and yet I never meant any such thing or dreamed what sort of life I was going to lead (Fairbanks, 62). The minister in the story is very similar to an artist or genius or someone else with some type of power because a preacher obviously has certain level of power and responsibility for the congregation. They are found to be even more similar in that: for one to do a good job, or better job than one or someone else has done before, one must deviate from conventional action.
In society, no matter what the outcome of a person’s lifestyle, deviant behavior is discouraged and punishable by alienation, but is only admired and commended in hindsight or retrospect. It is the same with Mr. Hooper. Hawthorne makes it clear that the veil causes him to do his job better and causes him to be isolated at the same time. But his isolation does not come from the veil, directly, but it comes from the people because they will not accept the deviant behavior. They demand an explanation, and when they do not reactive one, they make him an outcast.
It is exactly the same in reality. It is not the art that is the cause of the isolation of the artist, but it is the fault and working of the people who isolate him. So the context of the story suggests the abstract meaning of loneliness, as does the dialogue. Probably the most important scene to draw conclusions from is the last dialogue of Mr. Hooper, when he is dying. “Why do you tremble at me alone? ” … “Tremble also at each other! Have men avoided me, and women shown no pity, and children screamed and fled, only for my black veil” (Mcmichael, 640)? This last speech from Mr.
Hooper seems to most critics, especially ones of adolescent awareness of the story, to be yet more evidence that the black veil is a literal symbol of hidden sins. Yet, this actually points to an alternative meaning. Here, the point is clearly not the lesson that everyone wears veils; he is instead trying to reason with them to get him to accept him. He is trying to make the point that his veil is no different than anyone else. The reason doesn’t matter because everyone has veils, and not talking just about secret sins. Mr. Hooper is saying that everyone is different.
Hawthorne is saying that everyone is different; everyone just lives, weather they follow the social norms or not. As the dialogue continues, it is more apparent what is meant by Hawthorne. “When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend; the lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his creator” (Mcmichael, 640). Here, Hawthorne is driving the point home that everyone is someone else in order for people to accept them, saving their true selves for their dearest friends and lovers, but he had symbolically honestly true with everyone, and they shunned him for is.
In the same way, he lived open as possible with his unconventional ideas, and was shunned for it Hawthorne could make his emotions, thoughts, ambitions, and his artwork can never mean as much to anyone as it does to him. He couldn’t explain the story, because the story its self was an explanation. Nathanial Hawthorn used the whole story to create or incite a particular emotion, a type of “picture” that is like something else. In the minister’s black veil Hawthorne creates a partial “portrait” of his own emotions and soul with the focus being on the pain that isolation, alienation, and loneliness brings to some one such as an artist.