The Minister’s Black Veil - Characterization

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“The Minister’s Black Veil” - Characterization This essay will demonstrate the types of characters present in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil,” whether static or dynamic, whether flat or round, and whether portrayed through showing or telling. R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Rime: Hawthorne” states: “… there is always more to the world in which Hawthorne’s characters move than any one of them can see at a glance” (77). This is especially true with such flat or two-dimensional characters as are generally found in “The Minister’s BlackVeil.” These type characters are built on a “single idea or quality” and are presented without much “individualizing detail” (Abrams 33). The sexton, Elizabeth, Goodman, the visiting divine, the nurse, etc. serve as foils to Mr. Hooper. There is only one well-developed, or three dimensional character, in this short story, and he is the protagonist, Reverend Mr. Hooper. At the outset of the tale, the sexton, a flat or type character, is tolling the church bell and simultaneously watching Mr. Hooper’s door, when suddenly he says, ``But what has good Parson Hooper got upon his face?'' The surprise which the sexton displayed is repeated in the astonishment of the onlookers: “With one accord they started, expressing more wonder. . .” The reason is that “Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his face, so low as to be shaken by his breath” is a black veil. The 30 year old, unmarried parson garners a variety of reactions from his congregation: ``I can't really feel as if good Mr. Hooper's face was behind that piece of crape'' ``He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face'' ``Our parson h... ... middle of paper ... ... Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Minister’s Black Veil.” Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=HawMini.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=1&division=div1 Kaul, A.N. “Introduction.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966. Kazin, Alfred. Introduction. Selected Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Fawcett Premier, 1966. Lewis, R. W. B. “The Return into Time: Hawthorne.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966. Swisher, Clarice. “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

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