Essay on The Minister’s Black Veil– External, Internal Conflict

Essay on The Minister’s Black Veil– External, Internal Conflict

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“The Minister’s Black Veil”– External, Internal Conflict          

 
   Based on the evaluations of literary critics, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” contains both an external and an internal conflict, about equally treated in the tale. It is the intent of this essay to explore both types of conflict as presented in the story.

 

R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Rime: Hawthorne” implies internal and external conflict in his statement: “Finally, it was Hawthorne who saw in American experience the re-creation of the story of Adam and who . . . exploited the active metaphor of the American as Adam – before and during and after the Fall” (72). Q. D. Leavis says regarding internal confllict: the journey each must take alone, in dread, at night, is the journey away from home and the community, from conscious, everyday social life, to the wilderness where the hidden self satisfies, or is forced to realize, its subconscious fears. . . .” (36). Clarice Swisher in “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography” states: Hawthorne himself was preoccupied with the problems of evil, the nature of sin, the conflict between pride and humility”(13).

 

In the opinion of this reader, the central conflicts – the relation between the protagonist and antagonist (Abrams 225) - in the tale are an internal one, a spiritual-moral conflict within the minister, the Reverend Mr. Hooper, and an external one with the world at large represented by the congregation. Wilson Sullivan in “Nathaniel Hawthorne” tells where the author got the idea of a conflict between good and evil:

 

He looked back, deeply back into America’s Puritan past, the era of the New England theocracy, when the conflict of good and evil, free...


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...b.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.

 

Leavis, Q.D. “Hawthorne as Poet.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 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.

 

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

 

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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