Essay on An Obligation to Wear Darkness

Essay on An Obligation to Wear Darkness

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In Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil,” Hawthorne uses gloomy diction and tone to characterize both the apprehension of the people and the affliction of the veil on Mr. Hooper.
Throughout the passage, Hawthorne utilizes fairly simple diction, avoiding long, obscure words. Words like “preternatural” and “impertinence” are among the few words that may cause an average reader some trouble. Consequently, Hawthorne’s writing appeals to and targets the common man as an audience, as he writes with a straightforward choice of words.
Despite his use of simple words, Hawthorne uses long, complex sentences to describe the situation: “By persons who claimed a superiority to popular prejudice, it was reckoned more an eccentric whim, such as often mingles with the sober actions of men otherwise rational, and tinges them all with its own semblance of insanity” (Hawthorne, __). He creates compound and complex sentences by constantly adding more information to a given sentence. Rather than simply declaring that some members of the town think Mr. Hooper has developed an eccentric mannerism, Hawthorne expands it into something more general and universal by making a broad statement about the sometimes odd actions of normally rational men. This literary style, coupled with Hawthorne’s simple language, gives the impression that he intends to teach a lesson to the common man through his writing; his writing is a parable of sorts.
As any storyteller would do, Hawthorne makes declaratory statements about the situation to inform the reader of the context of the situation. He tells how Hooper’s dislike and apparent fear of the veil is common knowledge, along with the tendency of people to either flee or follow him around. At the same time, howeve...


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...ng as he passed by” (Hawthorne __). Hawthorne’s selection of “worldly” to describe the crowd adds another facet, suggesting that the people may be blinded and limited by their knowledge of the world. Mr. Hooper’s sad smile may be one of pity for the confusion of the less spiritual crowd, who cannot understand what he is doing.
Despite the doubt cast by Hawthorne about why Mr. Hooper wears a veil, it is still apparent that he intends for his story to serve as a parable. Hawthorne focuses on the veil as the source of evil, and uses it to teach a lesson about the unknown. Through his descriptions, he suggests that Mr. Hooper has not changed, save for the black veil he now wears on his face. The addition of a simple black piece of cloth transforms a beloved minister into an object of fear and curiosity in a social commentary on the fear of things unknown and different.

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