Rev. Mr. Clark
The Reverend Mr. Clark is a young and enthusiastic minister from the nearby town of Westbury, who is summoned to Milford to attend the dying Reverend Mr. Hooper. Knowing that "the veil of eternity’’ is about to be lifted from his worldly existence, Clark asks Hooper if he can remove the veil that he has stubbornly worn for many years. When Hooper desperately clings to that veil, Clark cries, ‘‘Dark old man! ... with what horrible crime upon your soul are you now passing to the judgment?’’ Clark is then witness to Hooper's dying claim that everyone in life wears a veil of secret shame that isolates him from the rest of the world. Hooper's veil is different only in that his is visible.
Elizabeth is engaged to the Reverend Mr. Hooper, the minister who has, for some unknown reason, taken to wearing a mysterious black veil over his face. At first, Elizabeth is not affected by the horror that the veil seems to evoke in others. She considers it to be only a piece of crepe cloth hiding the face for which she has acquired some affection. But she, too, finally feels the veil's unsettling power when Hooper refuses her request to remove it. He explains to her that the veil might serve equally well as either a symbol of mourning or a symbol of sorrow for the secret sin he is accused of harboring. Even though Elizabeth breaks off the engagement, she proves herself to be Hooper's steadfast friend by nursing...
(The entire section is 461 words.)