How does Hawthorne describe the veil in "The Minister's Black Veil"?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The veil is described as,"Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his face, so low as to be shaken by his breath. . . On a nearer view it seemed to consist of two folds of crape, which entirely concealed his features except the mouth and chin, but probably did not intercept his sight, further than to give a darkened aspect to all living and inanimate things."  It is also described as a "gloomy shade." One parishioner says that, "He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face."

The veil becomes a symbol for the guilt and sin that Reverend Hooper wants to hide from his congregation.  He can't face the sin he committed with a young woman and hides under a mask lest other's detect something in his eyes.  The veil becomes a much talked about phenomena in the town.  It scares children and creates distance between the Reverend and his congregation.  The Reverend dies and is buried with the veil on after he declares that the veil is a representative of the sins man hides from each other and God.

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The Minister's Black Veil

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