Reverend Hooper was the chief protagonist in the story, The Ministers Black veil. His sudden change from a normal clergy man to wearing a black veil on his face scared his audience.
All along the reverend had never acted crazily before. He was a respected young clergyman. Wearing the veil was the main cause of alienation from the villagers, congregation and his bride to be Elizabeth. The veil symbolized sin which caused many ironic actions amongst the people (Smith 1).
While reverend Hooper wore a veil on his way to church, the congregation was attentive to his teachings as he taught about secret sins. The veil seemed to work miracles. It created a good platform for separation between him and his congregation. It built up fear in them that no one was wishing to approach him after the sermon (Smith 1).
Elizabeth, who was engaged to the reverend, was alienated from her loved one because of the mysterious veil he wore. She was the only person who was not afraid of him. She tried to convince him to get rid of the veil. After enquiring why he was wearing the veil he revealed it to her that, “It is but a mortal veil-it is not for eternity” (Bloom 26).
The fact that reverend Hooper did not have people to talk or socialize with, could lead to his insanity. At first people thought he was insane but with consistent wearing of the veil, they accepted and tolerated his behavior (Smith 1).
Hooper had served in a funeral before proceeding to a wedding. During the funeral, his veil almost fell and he got it back speedily. This action troubled many people. One superstitious woman of age said that at that moment when the veil was falling from his face, she saw the corpse shake and it was like the Reverend was communicating with the corpse. This created more fear to the people (Smith 1).
Irony and Symbolism
Reverend Hooper used the black veil as a symbol of his message to his church: “Secret sin and those sad mysteries which we hide from our own consciousness” (Bloom 29). This meant that people were separated from facing themselves because of the sins they committed. The irony was that in spite of people getting away from him, he did not change his mind. He promised to wear the veil for the rest of his life. He was also ready to give up on Elizabeth, who was his wife to be.
It was ironical that Reverend Hooper continued to serve in the church while he never used to speak to the people he served. His veil helped him to work through his mission effectively. Dying sinners were looking desperately for him (Bloom 29).
Despite the relative acceptance of Reverend Hooper’s veil, he remains a frightening creature within the town. Children free from him, the townsfolk avoid him, and Hooper himself cannot stand to gaze in a mirror as he finds his own Image terrifying. (Bloom 26)
In one of the schools, one boy wore a handkerchief imitating Reverend Hooper’s black veil. Some of the people in the parish decided to confront the reverend about the mysterious veil. Ironically, they were scared of facing him even as a group.
Reverend Hooper’s sudden wearing of the black veil was symbolic. It was ironical that a piece of cloth could scare a multitude of people. The increased efficiency in his work was also a result of his veil.
Bloom, Harold. Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York. NY: Infobase Publishing, 2001.Print.
Smith, Nicole. The Minister’s Black Veil. Article Myriad, 2010. Web. 28 June 2011