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In "The Minister's Black Veil" how does the congregation respond at first to Mr....

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lexiegee | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 4, 2013 at 10:13 PM via web

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In "The Minister's Black Veil" how does the congregation respond at first to Mr. Hooper's black veil? Why?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 4, 2013 at 11:42 PM (Answer #1)

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The feeling that Nathaniel Hawthorne explains that the congregation first felt is "amazement". He explains that this young, virtuous and religious bachelor who leads his flock with sternness comes out looking as well-dressed and ready to preach as ever. However, the veil in front of his face seems almost as if it's part of his entire wardrobe, which is the main reason why the feelings of fear and weariness start to set in.

The cause of so much amazement may appear sufficiently slight. Mr. Hooper.. was dressed with due clerical neatness... There was but one thing remarkable in his appearance. Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his face, so low as to be shaken by his breath, Mr. Hooper had on a black veil.

The reason behind the amazement, which is later on followed by disdain, is that nobody knows the reason why the minister performs this eccentric action. The children start to fear the minister; the ladies say that they do not like the fact that this man finds it necessary to cover his face; the men are frustrated because the veil causes unnecessary instability in the congregation. Yet, the main reason behind the minister's actions are to show the world their own veil of sin, and to demonstrate that, in the end, we all hide behind a veil of lies.

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