In "The Minister's Black Veil," why did the minister's reflection cause him to run into the darkness?

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Readers know that Hooper can't stand the sight of his own reflection with the veil hanging before his face. He is so averse to himself that he avoids mirrors and even calm, reflective water.

In truth, his own antipathy to the veil was known to be so great, that he...

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Readers know that Hooper can't stand the sight of his own reflection with the veil hanging before his face. He is so averse to himself that he avoids mirrors and even calm, reflective water.

In truth, his own antipathy to the veil was known to be so great, that he never willingly passed before a mirror, nor stooped to drink at a still fountain, lest, in its peaceful bosom, he should be affrighted by himself.

What is not explained to readers and is, therefore, open to reader interpretation is exactly why Hooper is so frightened by his own image. It is possible that he is scared of the physical image of a person wearing a scary black mask. This might make a lot of sense if he was a 7 year old child or he came across someone that he didn't know wearing the veil; however, he is an adult. He knows that he is wearing the veil, and he likely has a pretty good idea of what his image looks like. I think he is averse to seeing his own reflection, because it makes him think of all of the reasons he's wearing the veil in the first place. The veil is symbolic of hidden sin, and when Hooper sees himself, he is viscerally reminded of all of his hidden sins. Running into the darkness is his way of running from those sins as well as eliminating any chance to see his reflection. If there is no light present, then he can't see anything being reflected.

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Another interpretation is that the minister's reflection causes him to run into the darkness because, after seeing himself in the veil, he is suddenly reminded of the reason why he is wearing the veil and becomes affected by it. This action answers an earlier musing stated by the physician's wife: “I wonder he is not afraid to be alone with himself.” It appears that he is, indeed, afraid to be alone with himself. He is also afraid of being alone, without a companion. Perhaps the veil reminds him that he has a life of self-imposed loneliness ahead of him. We can see his fear of being alone when he begs his fiancée Elizabeth not to go:

“Have patience with me, Elizabeth!” cried he, passionately. “Do not desert me, though this veil must be between us here on earth. Be mine, and hereafter there shall be no veil over my face, no darkness between our souls! It is but a mortal veil — it is not for eternity! O! you know not how lonely I am, and how frightened, to be alone behind my black veil. Do not leave me in this miserable obscurity forever!”

Once again we learn, this time through words rather than actions, that he is afraid to be alone with himself and that he also wants to have a companion.

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The narrator tells us that when Mr. Hooper caught sight of his own reflection, just about to toast the happiness of the newly-married couple, he drops his wine on the ground and runs out into the night because "the black veil involved his own spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed all others."  In other words, Mr. Hooper had the same reaction to seeing himself as others have when they see him.  When he first began to wear the veil, members of his congregation had a hard time believing that it really was their "good Mr. Hooper" behind it.  Further, one woman said, "'He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face.'"  Children run away from him, he stops receiving dinner invitations, and even his fiancee leaves him as a result of how uncomfortable the black veil makes them.  When Mr. Hooper sees his own reflection, then, he has a similarly visceral response to its horror, and this causes him to run away from the sight of himself.

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