Essay on The Theme of Hawthorne’s The Minister's Black Veil

Essay on The Theme of Hawthorne’s The Minister's Black Veil

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“The Minister’s Black Veil” – The Theme         

 
    In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” the dominanat theme is obviously one man’s alienation from society. This essay intends to explore, exemplify and develop this topic.

 

Hyatt Waggoner in “Nathaniel Hawthorne” states:

 

Alienation is perhaps the theme he handles with greatest power. “Insulation,” he sometimes called it – which suggests not only isolation but imperviousness. It is the opposite of that “osmosis of being” that Warren has written of, that ability to respond and relate to others and the world. . . . it puts one outside the ‘magic circle’ or the ‘magnetic chain’ of humanity, where there is neither love nor reality (54).

 

The theme arises from the central conflict in the tale, which is an internal one, a spiritual-moral conflict within the minister, the Reverend Mr. Hooper. “Everything he has to say is related, finally, to ‘that inward sphere’” (McPherson 68-69). The minister’s absorption into the problems of his “inner sphere” cause the draping of the crape veil and the resultant alienation from people.

 

At the outset of the tale, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” the sexton 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 this: “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 receives a variety of reactions from his congregation, all of which...


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...ext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=HawMini.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=1&division=div1

 

Kazin, Alfred. Introduction. Selected Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Fawcett Premier, 1966.

 

McPherson, Hugo. “Hawthorne’s Use of Mythology.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

 

Sullivan, Wilson. “Nathaniel Hawthorne.” In New England Men of Letters. New York: Macmillan Co., 1972.

 

Waggoner, Hyatt. “Nathaniel Hawthorne.” In Six American Novelists of the Nineteenth Century, edited by Richard Foster. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1968.

 

Williams, Stanley T. “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.

 

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