How might this concept play out in "The Minister's Black Veil?"Hawthorne (who is a Puritan) shows the ultimate consequence for the mistrust and self-doubt that is inherent in his Puritan education.

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Very interesting question! You are completely right in identifying the context in which Hawthorne was writing. However, it is also important to identify how Hawthorne in his writings challenges and questions tenets of Puritanism through the themes and messages of his work. "The Minister's Black Veil" is a classic example as it exposes the hypocrisy and judgemental attitude of many Puritans. It does this through pointing out that everyone has some form of secret sin that we hide, perhaps even from ourselves. Consider Mr. Hooper's final declaration regarding his black veil:

"When the friend shown his inmost hearth to his friend; the lover to his best beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin; then deem me a monster, for the symbol beneath which I have lived, and die!"

Hawthorne thus makes a serious allegation about the form of religiosity that Puritans presented - in outward aspect true and good, whilst on the inside sins and faults were harboured and not exposed. It is man's inability to completely be honest and open about his failings and sins that make the black veil so terrifying an image in the story, for everyone, at least partially, acknowledges that they have a black veil guarding their faults just as surely as Mr. Hooper does.

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The Minister's Black Veil

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