In "The Minister's Black Veil: A Parable", the minister's last words include these passages: "Why do you tremble at me alone?...I look around me, and , lo! On every visage a black veil!" What do...

In "The Minister's Black Veil: A Parable", the minister's last words include these passages:

"Why do you tremble at me alone?...I look around me, and , lo! On every visage a black veil!"

What do you think he means? Write a brief essay to state the inference you can draw from the minister's words?

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Expert Answers
price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The black veil the minister wears becomes a mystery since the first day he stands in his church and preaches about secret sin to his congregation.  The veil is a symbol of the sins he hides from the community.  He covers his eyes with the veil so no one can see into his soul and discover his sins.  People in the community start to wonder why the minister will do such a thing.  The veil the minister wears gives off a gloomy, fearful feeling, and even the children of the town are scared of the minister.  The veil isolates the minister from the community and life, and as he is trying to get across a message of sin, he is really not living life to the fullest.   This self-isolation can be a sin itself.  His fiancé, Elizabeth, begs him to take off the veil, and he refuses.  Elizabeth ends their engagement, but on the minister’s death bed becomes his nurse. 

The minister’s last lines represent his belief that we are all sinners and wear our own black masks to cover our transgressions.  The fear and uneasiness the community experiences while looking at the minister represents their denial of their own sins.  No one is free of sin, not even a godly man like the minister.  He is flawed just like his congregation of worshippers.  However, by outwardly displaying his secret sins, he is also covering up any hope of happiness. 

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The Minister's Black Veil

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