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Similar Themes in both Roger Malvin's Burial and The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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In both “Roger Malvin's Burial” and “The Minister's Black Veil,” Nathaniel Hawthorne centralizes the themes of sin, guilt, and repentance. Both are very much set in terms of what defines sin and, in turn, what would constitute action leaving an opening for forgiveness, and both leave many a question unanswered in the story being told. The main question for us becomes, then, one of applicability. Does either story hold a message, if so, what? In considering the two, it may be that they do indeed hold a message, but maybe that message is not one that Hawthorne himself could ever have intended. In this paper I will deal with the themes of guilt, sin, repentance and how Hawthorne developed them in both stories.
Considering first “Roger Malvin's Burial,” the reader is immediately caught off-balance in terms of the presentation of the background to the story. A battle has been fought and won. This, in the introduction, is presented in a fashion when Hawthorne tells us that “The battle, though so fatal to those who fought, was not unfortunate in its consequences to the country; for it broke the strength of a tribe and conduced to the peace which subsisted during several ensuing years” (20). In this lack of empathy for the Native Americans protecting their own homeland, we may realizes from the beginning that we are dealing with a writer whose sensibilities we may not ourselves share. As the story develops, this tends to be confirmed.
Two men, Reuben Bourne and Roger Malvin, have survived the battle and are trying to make their way back home. Both are wounded. As they stop in a forest by “…a young and vigorous sapling stood…,” Malvin entreats Bourne to abandon him and save himself (20). The men are familiar with one another and, at fir...


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...wthorne has a message or lesson to us and he delivers his message or lesson by his way such as he made his protagonist in both stories as guilty. His goal is to reveal something about unmoral and the people have, sin, guilt, shame, and they need a repentance. The sin, guilt, and shame, in the case of Bourne, a person who failed to keep his vow, he suffers guilt. the other hand, the sin, guilt, shame, in the case of Mr. Hooper, especially the mask is unbelievable that Mr. Hooper wears the mask and he did not take off even though when he is dying because the people’s sins. In both stories, we cannot accept Elizabeth's sacrifice, nor that of Cyrus. We would have been more moral for Mr. Hooper to have lifted his mask for Elizabeth and graced her with an explanation. Also we consider Hawthorne's stories exemplify a moral lesson, a lesson Hawthorne maybe never intended.



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