Essay on The Minister 's Black Veil

Essay on The Minister 's Black Veil

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For this synthesis, I am choosing to write about “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. I am choosing these specific passages because of their tone and narratives. These two short stories are written near a century apart yet still share an unceasing ominous and sepulchral tone throughout. The focus of death surrounds each story but the purpose of writing each is different and is obtained with different and quite contrary narrators and narrative voices. “The Minister’s Black Veil”’s purpose is to leave the reader questioning while “A Rose for Emily” has a purpose of surprising the reader. It can be argued that Hawthorne’s use of narrative voice is more effective than Faulkner’s when it comes to telling the story and this is what I intend to prove throughout this essay.

Hawthorne’s story “The Minister’s Black Veil” (1836) takes place in Milford Village and though a specific time frame is not given, it can be inferred that it takes place during the Puritanism era. This can be presumed because of Hawthorne’s upbringing in a Puritan family and his references to this same time period in his other works such as “Young Goodman Brown” (1835) and “The Scarlet Letter” (1850). This story tells the tale of a town terrified reaction to their minister, Mr. Hooper, who had “Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his face, so low as to be shaken by his breath, Mr. Hooper had on a black veil.” (Hawthorne 331). The town does not take well to this choice and rumors being to stir about it acting as a symbol of Mr. Hooper being “under the consciousness of secret sin” (Hawthorne 335) or having something to hide. Hooper repeatedly dismisses these accusations but continues to wear the lay...


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...ives the reader a look at both sides of the town while Faulkner’s depiction is, while in a way more direct, it is also one-sided and does not give the reader anything except what the townspeople believe to be true. Not only is it a very polarized view of Miss Emily’s life and actions, the reader cannot be sure of if they are being given the truth and hearing the full story or not. The purpose of each story differs, with one’s purpose being to leave the reader confused and left to decide on their own what the veil meant and the other being to leave you blind to the ending. Technically speaking, both carry out their purpose but only one in my opinion does so effectively and reliably. In conclusion, though at first thought a direct voice might seem to be the best way to tell a story, a distant, all-seeing voice lets the reader decide which he or she chooses to believe.

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