The Puritan Conundrum By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

The Puritan Conundrum By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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The Puritan Conundrum
Throughout Hawthorne’s short stories which examine secret sin based in Puritan societies, the protagonist, Mr. Hooper, a preacher in Milford, describes to his wife “Do not desert me though this veil must be between us here on earth” (32). Hooper who has arrived at a point where his community and wife have abandoned him while on his deathbed realizes that he is deserted because of his secret sin. This description of utter loneliness is in contrast with Hawthorne’s portrayal of Hooper, who once was a prominent priest in the Milford area. Hawthorne’s depiction of Mr. Hooper’s secret sin, taking form in the black veil alters his life indefinetely. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories, the author identifies secret sin as the cause of isolation, relationship struggles, and the community’s behavior.
Hawthorne’s short stories exhibit how the communities and the protagonists are isolated from their surroundings as a result of their secret sin in a common Puritan practice, scapegoating. In “The Minister’s Black Veil”, the community in Milford isolates Mr. Hooper because he wears a black veil. As a result, the community gossips and speculates why Mr. Hooper wears the black veil, and rather than asking him why he wears the veil, the community ostracizes him. The speculation of Mr.Hooper’s secret sin leads to his isolation and the lack of sympathy and love. The author comments that “an ambiguity of sin or sorrow, ... enveloped the poor minister, so that love or sympathy could never reach him”(33). Mr. Hooper is isolated when he denies taking off his veil. Mr. Hooper warns the people around him on his deathbed: “I look around me, and, lo! On every visage a Black veil!” (35). This explanation exhibits how Mr. Hooper...


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... every visage a black veil” (35). Father Hooper has finally conveyed his message to the community that everyone bears secret sin visible or not. In “Young Goodman Brown”, the protagonist Goodman Brown is affected by seeing his community worshipping the devil in the woods. Goodman Brown is afraid of his community 's secret sin in the woods. Goodman Brown isolates himself from society because he is unable to see the community in the same light.
Writing on the subject of secret sin, Hawthorne points out how secret sin is evident in Puritan communities in isolation, marital status, and the community itself. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s writing is important because it points out the flaws in the communities resulting from Puritan practices to avoid secret sinners. His writing today provides a glimpse into how the sinful were once treated rather than being cared for.










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