Hawthorne’s Use of Allegory

Hawthorne’s Use of Allegory

"The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a short story that was first published in the 1836 edition of the Token and Atlantic Souvenir and reappeared over time in Twice-Told Tales, a collection of short stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The short story narrates the events following Reverend Mr. Hooper's decision to begin wearing a black veil that obscures his full face, except for his mouth and chin. Mr. Hooper simply arrives one day at the meeting house wearing the semi-transparent black veil and refuses from then on to take it of, leading to the loss of his fiancée and isolation form the world. He is even buried in the black veil. Yet, what is important to note are Mr. Hooper's last words to those surrounding his deathbed. He tells them namely in anger that all of them wear black veils: “I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a Black Veil!”. This declaration underlines the meanings of the veil in the story as symbolic of sin, darkness, and the duality within human nature. Thus, "The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a literary work of art that demonstrates the author's use of allegory to highlight the psychological angle of the story and characters.

"The Minister's Black Veil" is an allegorical narrative in which the agents of setting, symbols, characters, and actions come in a coherent way to represent non-literal and metaphorical meanings about the human character. The black veil is without doubt the most important symbol used in the story. It comes to represent the darkness and duality of human nature, adding thereby a certain undeniable psychoanalytical angle to the short story. The black veil represents the sin that all men carry secretively within their heart as M...

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...face, the veil of pretension, appearances, lies, and self-deception. The unconscious desires and guilt are suppressed and cornered away in one's conscious. In short, Mr. Hooper mirrors the true nature of humans around him. Only when the true nature of life and the freedom of truth is observed can the veil be lifted.

Works Cited

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

Bell, Millicent. "New Essays on Hawthorne's Major Tales". Cambridge: Cambridge University Press., 1993

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Minister’s Black Veil.” Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. http: / / / etcbin / toccer-new2?id=HawMini.sgm & images=images / modeng & data= / texts / english / modeng / parsed & tag=public & part=1 & division=div1

Merriman, C.D. "Nathaniel Hawthorne" Jalic Inc. 2007.
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