The Ministers Black Veil verses Goodman Brown Essay

This essay has a total of 1689 words and 7 pages.

The Ministers Black Veil verses Goodman Brown



The Veil of the Minister and Goodman Brown
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories “The Minister’s Black Veil” and “Young Goodman Brown”
are two stories that are thick with allegory. “Young Goodman Brown” is a moral story which
is told through the perversion of a common townsperson. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Goodman
Brown is a Puritan who lets his excessive pride in himself interfere with his relations
with the community after he meets with the devil and causes him to live the life of an
exile in his own community. “The Minister’s Black Veil” is also a moral story that is told
through the perversion of a Puritan religious leader. In “The Minister’s Black Veil,”
Parson Hooper is abashed of his own sin and attempts to disguise his sin with a black
veil. In an ironic way, Parson Hooper and Goodman Brown are both wearing a veil of guilt
to cover up their own sins. This veil later becomes the main symbol of guilt, excessive
pride, and hidden sins.

What exactly is guilt? Guilt is remorseful awareness of having done something wrong.
Goodman Brown and Parson Hooper are two men that are guilty of some type of wrong
behavior. Their guilt arrives from an act of sin. “Young Goodman Brown” begins when Faith,
Brown’s wife, asks him not to go out on an errand to meet the devil. This errand later
becomes the center of his guilt. Goodman Brown’s guilt is carried around with him like an
invisible veil that will never uncover him. In the same way, Parson Hooper has a veil that
covers part of his face to hide his face from his congregation because of how guilty he
feels. When Goodman Brown finally meets with the devil, he declares that the reason he is
late is because “Faith kept me back awhile” (Hawthorne 1237). This statement has a double
meaning because his wife physically prevents him from being on time for his meeting with
the devil, the wrongdoing that causes Goodman Brown’s whole sense of guilt. When Goodman
Brown comes back to the town, he projects his guilt onto those around him. His pride
“...rises within him to cast a shadow over the apparent realities of life in Salem that he
once took as visible evidence of sanctity” (Martin 84). Goodman Brown feels he can push
his own faults onto others and look down at them rather than look at himself and resolve
his own faults with himself. The rest of his life is destroyed because of his inability to
face this truth and live with it. In “The Minister’s Black Veil,” Hooper commits a sin and
is ashamed by it so he covers his face to hide from the sin. He also does this to prove
that no one is perfect and that everyone makes mistakes. On critic states that “Hooper is
more closely related to those who withdrew actively as a result of a misguiding religious
zeal” (Newman 200). This may be the result of how Hooper allows himself to commit a sin
that he is forever guilty of. These two men are alike in that both of their feelings of
guilt arrives from a sin that neither is aware that they committed. This sin is an
allegory of the veil; the veil that will forever cover Goodman Brown and Parson Hooper.

Goodman Brown and Parson Hooper both show great examples of excessive pride in the way
that they carry themselves and their sins. When Goodman Brown is venturing into the woods
to meet with the devil, he leaves his unquestionable faith in God with his wife. This is
an example of the excessive pride because of this promise that he made to himself. There
is a tremendous irony to this promise because when Goodman Brown came back at dawn, he can
no longer look at his wife with the same faith. Goodman Brown’s invisible veil is now
pulled over his eyes in a way in which he can not see that he too has sinned and that it
is not just the townspeople and his wife who are sinning. In “The Minister’s Black Veil,”
Parson Hooper does not seem to illustrate that much pride, but other critics seem to
disagree. As one critic states, “Others have judged Hooper guilty of a different kind of
sin: excessive pride” (Newman 205). His pride is illustrated through him never stating why
he wore the veil. The black veil is just constructed as an allegory that would compare sin
concocted by imagination with unrecognized sin of oneself. The veil is ironically placed
over Hooper’s face to make the people of the congregation realize that no one is perfect
and that everyone sins. Hooper constantly refuses to remove the veil. His veil disrupts
numerous occasions just by the aura that it lets off. For example, “It caused children to
flee when he approached because he would not remove the veil even for one moment” (Martin
75). Although “Hooper’s self-deceptive insistence on wearing the veil is an ironic
dramatization of his own inability to see his sin of pride even as he seeks to reveal the
hidden sins of others” (Newman 205). This demonstrates how much pride in the veil Hooper
held. One can conclude that he has so much pride in this veil because he wants to be a
more powerful and forceful minister who also wants his congregation to realize that they
were not the only ones that commit sins.

Sin is an issue that every human being has to deal with at one time or another in his or
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