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“Young Goodman Brown” (1835), which was followed by “The Minister’s Black Veil,” observes the nature of temptation and its aftermath of isolation.Then came Hawthorne’s classic masterpiece, (1850), which explores the effects of sin on four individuals.The veil, a common part of clothing in weddings and funerals, is a gothic element, producing an uncanny, unsettling effect that makes the familiar strange.
On the basis of his efforts in such early stories as "The Minister's Black Veil," which was singled out by critics, Hawthorne earned critical praise and began to establish himself as an American author of repute.
Known for its ambiguous and dark tone, the story recounts the tale of a minister so consumed with human sin and duplicity that he dons a veil to hide his face and manifest the spiritual veils that all humans wear.
This minister, as a youth, had accidentally killed a close friend.
From that day until his death, he had hidden his face with a veil.
Isolation is a central theme in his works, perhaps because he was a solitary child of a widowed recluse.
After college, he was alone again for twelve years before he married.It was during this time that he wrote “The Minister’s Black Veil.” Unlike his contemporaries, such as writer-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, a romantic Transcendentalist, Hawthorne believed that sin and evil are palpable and real and present in humans.Herman Melville, author of (1851), said this “power of blackness” in Hawthorne comes from “that Calvinistic sense of Innate Depravity and Original Sin, from whose visitations, in some shape or other, no deeply thinking mind is always and wholly free.” Hawthorne explores the presence of sin through several works.In “Ethan Brand” (1851), he examines unpardonable sin.Hawthorne, an allegorical writer on a quest for spiritual meaning, models his writing after John Bunyan and Edmund Spenser.Hooper prays at the young woman’s funeral, saying that every living mortal will be ready “for the dreadful hour that should snatch the veil from their faces.” The young reverend, Mr.Clark, initially remarks that Hooper is one who is “holy in deed and thought.” Further clues to the mystery of the veil appear at the end of the story.The center of this story is the effect of the veil.Hooper tells Elizabeth it is a symbol, but he does not interpret it.He identifies “The Minister’s Black Veil” as a parable, a genre often defined as a short story with moral intent.The overt moral to the story is that the Reverend Hooper thinks that every human has a secret sin, which is veiled from all except God.