Nathaniel Hawthorne has primarily used symbolism in his work as a style of narrative maneuver. A symbol like the black color has been used to denote the veil itself. It is a symbol of evil and secret sin of humanity. The veil representation has been commonly used to illustrate fear of the unknown and the rigidity in the puritan society.
Besides, the typical nuance veil has rested in the somatic and conceptual disadvantage that it establishes, amid the minister and his brethren and the shame that it articulates.

Hawthorne (89) describes that the congregation trust that the exterior exhibits offers evidence in regard to a person’s essential features, thus his or her incredible comportment. Hence by embracing the veil, the minister diminishes the authority on which the faithful can accurately envisage his conduct.

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This causes isolation of the minister with his congregation, although he is made reckless already by simple action of wearing the veil. Fragment of the terrifying effect of veil descends from consciousness (Meyer, 65).

The consciousness alludes that the other person is capable of seeing without being identified or seen himself. This is illustrated by members of the congregation when they say “the most blameless girl and the man of cynical breast sensed as if the minister had crept on them. Behind this dreadful veil, revealed their amassed unfairness of deed (Hawthorne, 113)

As the congregation cannot aptly predict where the minister is gazing, they trust and assume that they are being watched diligently than normal. This hypothesis is reinforced by the theme of the discourse, which “had typified furtive evil and the miserable secrecies which people skin from the rest of society”.

Hence, the ministers exemplify the responsibility of “God”, whose probing examination can decode secret mystery of an individual of the soul. Equally, the wearing of the veil is a signal of being guilty. As a classic illustration for the society, the minister accordingly infers that individuals have to accept the same.

The minister criticizes the people by being chauvinistic and fallen from the philosophy of ethics. They are extremely concerned, with the growing power drilled over them in embracing shared uniqueness of Puritan America. This is apparent in fundamental battle amid the people and society (Hawthorne, 79).

The Minister’s black veil symbol can also be illustrated clearly on the universal variance between puritanism and sensitivity, which is the attitude that hominid are dualistic; they have inherent, evil side and an internalized, moralistic side.

Rendering to this set of conjecture, the “Evil or darkness” as described by Hawthorne, we can infer that darkness is a natural part of an individual (Hawthorne, 97).

The Minister recognizes the evil in him and formulates alternatives to curb obstacles that can preserve his sentient character from intolerable and suppressed self. This obstacle is embodied in the veil (Meyer, 104).

It is subsequently transferred as a reflection of clandestine sin. The congregation epitomizes the cognizant of the persona, which entails the ethics and tenets verbalized by humanity. To evade frightening acuities from inflowing cognizance, they embrace multiple instruments. The multiplicity of these shield instruments is illustrated by the antiphons of minister’s homily (Hawthorne, 3).

Various people search for means of appraising the situation, as in case, the existence of others. Others find a way to befuddle themselves from their feelings, by talking and laughing loudly. Other people dismiss or refute their feeling of the situation.


Symbols in Hawthorne’s play, The Minister’s Black Veil illustrate the impenetrable obstacle existing in all human souls. The point illustrated by the symbols alludes that every individual should accept his or her “black veil” (Meyer, 123). However, if we humans are contented in accepting the evil in them, there is a concern to come when individuals will be compelled to put aside their veils.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Minister’s Black Veil, Iowa: Perfection Learning, 2007

Meyer, Michael. The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing, London: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007


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