The Black Veil
The Minister’s Black Veil, by Hawthornes is a short story about a minister who, all of a sudden, starts putting on a black veil. This sudden behavior turns away the people of the town. It has been argued that the minister wanted to show the origin of sin. At the end of the short story, the reader discovers that the veil was used to symbolize the obstacles that we face in the life on earth and eternity. Reverend Hooper wears a veil one Sunday morning. The parishioners and the congregation to ask themselves what Rev. Hooper intended in this new gesture. No one questions the motive behind this. They all leave the Reverend in that mood without anything. This behavior continued for a long time with the congregations wanting to know what the reverend was trying to hide. They persisted wanting to know what the veil signified. No one dared to ask the reverend what this meant. His fiancé, Elizabeth asked his betrothed about the sudden behavior and he did not yield to all these questions. The fiancé tries to use tactics like crying but the priest does not tell her. The minister dies with the veil still in his face.
Although the theme of the story has been an issue of great debate, it has been widely believed that individualism was the main theme. America is known to be a society which practiced conformism. There are no instances which individualism has been practiced. More people want to belong to the same group and have one identity. There are many instances where people want to be recognized by the same people in the same category. Any instances of individualism have been praised or persecuted by many. There are people who will not mind having people who become individualists while others will not accept this and will do all they can to persecute. In this regard, the individual who gets the praise will get so much fame that other people will want to share this fame with that individual. It is believed that conformism is something that cannot be avoided in the modern era. This is because there are connection channels. This issue of individualism has been a theme that has been advocated by writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne. Individualism is something that is common in the writings of Nathaniel.
The theme of individualism is evident from the black veil that Hooper wears. By doing this, he becomes different from the rest of the people. He refuses to tell anyone what the real motive was in the wearing of the veil. He is one individual who will do what they believe is right. They will do that without the notion that they will be intimidated. The minister does not take away the veil from his face even on his deathbed. He uses the veil to break up from the rest of the people in the congregation and in the rest of the town. He explains this in his deathbed, “this dismal shade must separate me from the rest of the world”. Hooper keeps his individualism for a long time, unlike in another parable, that of The Birthmark, by the same author, where Georgiana finally takes away her mark on the face. This shows how stubborn and persisting Hooper was in his individualism. He did not listen to anyone.
Another theme of individualism is in the life of the minister himself. He had to change his name, when he realized that he was sharing blood with a witchcraft judge, John Hathorne. He added w to his name so that it sounded different. This shows that he cared for his image more than anything else. He wanted his name and character not to be compared to anyone who did not have a good standing in the society.
Individualism is also evident even in the period with which the article was written. The short story was written in the 18th century at a time when Romanticism was taking place. Romanticism was a movement of artists that was geared towards individual expression. This is individualism in practice. It was a rebellion against the norms that have been set in the society. The main movement was to go towards having personal expression and not following the norms that have been set in the society. The culture emphasized on heroism and individualistic superiority away from living together as a family. It is believed in Romanticism that heroes die because of a reason that they are fighting for. In realism, there is no such belief. This is individualism that is seen in the novel. We also determine how our eternity will look like. The way we live our lives will determine the way we will eventually have our destiny.
There us also some form of transcendentalism in the story. Hawthorne was a great transcendentalist in in his writing. Transcendentalism was a movement that stressed more on the role that an individual had on the society. The specific principles of transcendentalism include spiritual beliefs, nature or self realization. Transcendentalism is evident in the story in the way people should live their lives. The motive of the minister was to teach people how to live a life of not concealing sins but to show sins but should not focus on the aftermath but should focus more on the journey towards eternity. The way a person decides to live their lives on earth will determine where their souls end up in the end.
Individualism has a role in the society. From the parable, it is clear that individualism has been advocated by the author. Individualism helps to correct the secrets that people have. Individualism is used to correct the hidden faults that people have. In the parable, it was the motive of Hooper to let the congregation that they should not hide sins from the public. They should let others know what is happening and should ensure that they do everything they can to confess and correct the sins.
Another role that individualism has in the parable is that of making people know that their ways while still on earth will determine their destiny. People should know that there are parts of their lives that they determine the outlook themselves. From the individualism point of view, people are thought to have their own sense of guilt. This way, they will correct the sins that they have at individual levels.
Another role that individualism has in the society is that if we have popular people who advocate for individualism, they will serve as role models in the society. This is one way in which good morals can be instilled in people. It is important to have some individuals who are outstanding in the society so that they serve as role models. This is where individualism plays a key role. People tend to be inquisitive to individual who are individualists.
Another role of individualism is to instill courage and act as a source of inspiration to people who feel as if they are down in life. This is a part where individualism plays a key role. Striving to stand out of the crowd can be a source of inspiration to many people in the society. All in all, individualism has been used to serve as a teaching to the congregation that there are sins that are hidden by individuals.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Minister's Black Veil. New York: Cengage Learning, 2000.