The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Why does the veil make Mr. Hooper a more effective minister?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Initially, Mr. Hooper's veil perturbs his congregation, as people find the black veil to be ominous and foreboding. However, Mr. Hooper's messages seem to be more direct and influential to his congregation. Hawthorne writes,

"...there was something, either in the sentiment of the discourse itself, or in the imagination of the auditors, which made it greatly the most powerful effort that they had ever heard from their pastor's lips" (2).

The veil symbolically represents the secrets sins that each individual possesses, which are hidden from society. This strikes a chord with the congregation, making Mr. Hooper a more effective minister. As time passes, the community becomes accustomed to Mr. Hooper's veil and no longer fears the minister. Mr. Hooper develops a reputation as a gentle, sympathetic preacher, who has an "awful power over souls that were in agony for sin." By wearing the black veil, Mr. Hooper is essentially drawing attention to his own private sins, which makes other sinners...

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