Figurative Language in “The Minister’s Black Veil”

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil" illustrates the dangers of secret sin. Allowing guilt from things done in the past, things that cannot be changed, can ruin lives. The life of the secret-carrier will be devastated, along with the lives of that person's most loved ones. Hawthorne uses various types of figurative language in his works to portray his message. "The Minister's Black Veil” is no exception; Hawthorne uses symbolism and suggestion to add depth and mystery. Hawthorne's parable, "The Minister's Black Veil," uses symbols to illustrate the effect of shame and guilt. In the story, Mr. Hooper represents the average Christian with a deep longing to be holy, and have fellowship with man. However he allows the cross that he bears to come between himself and the latter. His secret is represented by the veil he wears. The veil itself is black, the color of both secrecy and sin. Spiritually, the veil embodies the presence of evil in all of mankind. In the physical realm it serves as emotional barrier between himself and everyone else (Timmerman). During his first sermon after donning the veil, it is observed that, "... while he prayed, the veil lay heavily on his uplifted countenance. Did he seek to hide it from the dread Being whom he was addressing?" (par 10). The veil made Mr. Hooper a powerful preacher. But even the people his messages touched the most would shudder when Mr. Hooper would move close to comfort them, his veiled face making them tremble (par 45). His personal relationships all but ceased to exist. Outside of church, he was seen as a bugbear, or monster. (par 44). Seemingly, the only one that did not fear the veil was his loving fiancée, Elizabeth. Elizabeth symbolizes purity. She is innocent and... ... middle of paper ... ...'s Black Veil." Hawthorne’s story warns that secrets can destroy the relationships cherished the most in life. Hawthorne’s parable uses symbols to give the story deeper meaning. Hawthorne also uses suggestion to create a mood of mystery and darkness. Works Cited Donoghue, Denis. "Hawthorne and Sin." Christianity and Literature 52.2 (Wntr 003): 215(19). Expanded Academic ASAP. Gale. Trident Technical College. 20 Apr. 2011. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Minister's Black Veil" Ibiblio - The Public's Library and Digital Archive. Web. 17 Feb. 2011. Stein, William Bysshe. "The Parable of the Antichrist in "The Minister's Black Veil." American Literature 27.3 (1955): 386. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 20 Apr. 2011. Timmerman, John H. "Hawthorne's The Minister's Black Veil." Explicator 41.3 (1983): 29. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 20 Apr. 2011.

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