Beyond the “Minister’s Black Veil”: The Search of a Pure Soul and Unveiled Life Hawthorne’s story “The Minister’s Black Veil” talks about a Church Minister called Mr. Hooper, who in a Sabbath day, brought perturbation and chaos among his congregation while appearing with a black crape covering his face. However, the community throughout thee story whispers that the black veil refers to how “Mr. Hooper’s conscience tortured him for some great crime, too horrible to be entirely concealed” (Hawthorne 340). Even Elizabeth “as his plighted wife” (339) could not conceal nor remove the veil from Mr. Hooper. Although Father Hooper did not reveal the mystery of the black veil, he made an statement almost at the end of the story that gives readers a reason to not only justifies his acts, but to reflect or learn from them: When the friend shows his inmost fear to his friend; the lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die! I look around me, and, lo! On every visage a Black Veil! (342).
Was Mr. Hooper just hiding a crime or sin behind his veil? Or was Mr. Hooper trying to show a spiritual lesson to his congregation? Why the brief smile despite all stares and comments? Why was the black veil just hiding Hooper’s eyes while the mouth still disclosed? The answer could be that Reverend Hooper is going farther in his spiritual ministry. His Black Veil is an assumption of how the human and spiritual life has to be: pure and coherent. The narrator said, “Among all its bad influences, the black veil had the one desirable effect, of making its wearer a very efficient clergyman” (340).
Surely, neither human nor saints have been perfect, rather they have recognized their weaknesses (humility) and lifted them up to light to be changed. Hooper brought a weird sensation up that could be feeling around. “She arose, and stood trembling before him” (339). We understand that Mr. Hooper brought the sin, which is invisible, to the visible world somehow. However, he expected that bringing sin, crime or whatever it could be to life literally would make him more sincere and honest.
People in the light see everything; hiding things hardly will be righteous. Most probably, Mr. Hooper’s lifestyle was a method to teach his congregation about congruence in spiritual life. “His converts always regarded him with a dread peculiar to themselves, affirming, though but figuratively, that, before he brought them to celestial light, they had been with him behind the black veil” (340). Also, we found that Mr. Hooper, after harsh moments, did not quit or desist about his veil; rather he smiled and thought about future reward. But, even amid his grief, Mr. Hooper smiled to think that only a material emblem had separated him from happiness” (340). Through pain, the soul can be purified, but while we live in a physical entity in this world, the soul will not attain fullness. Until that moment, real happiness will arise. “Be mine, and hereafter there shall be no veil over my face, no darkness between our souls! It is but a mortal veil – it is not for eternity” (340). Further, Mr. Hooper covered just his eyes and not his entirely face.
Eyes represent the soul’s mirror, the windows through which it catches things. Mr. Hooper knows that the world will not help him to improve his spirituality. He decided not to see anymore outside, rather to search inside to take everything bad away. “This dismal shade must separate me from the world” (339). Elizabeth, his beloved, questioned about him too, “What grievous affliction hath befallen you… that you should thus darken your eyes for ever? ” (339). And Mr. Hooper darkened his eyes to start to see with the real eyes: the soul’s eyes.
Finally, there is another statement that proves that the veil beyond the chaos that brought to Mr. Hooper’s community, made of him a congruent man, almost a saint “that a man so given to a prayer, of such a blameless example, holy in deed and thought” (342). In conclusion, Mr. Hooper implemented the black veil to make his parishioners conscious about what depicts a life without lies, an unveiled life.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. ”The Black Veil” The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature. Ed. Michael Meyer. 9th ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012. 334-42. Print.