In "The Minister's Black Veil," what does the minister see when confronted with his own reflection in the mirror?
It would be hard to guess what this eccentric minister sees when he looks in the mirror. It is hard for any of us to see our "real" face in a mirror because we automatically assume an expression that represents our persona--the kind of persona we would like other people to think we are. The same thing happens when we have our photograph taken--unless someone with a camera happens to catch us off guard. It would seem that this minister is wearing a black veil in public because it is the only way he can go about without having to wear a false expression on his face. That expression would probably be about the same as his parishioners would be wearing if they showed their real selves--and they know it. The irony in this story is that the minister is only able to show his true face because he has it concealed behind a veil. The minister cannot even see his real face in a mirror. He is not a likeable character. He seems like an insufferable egomaniac, and we can certainly not blame his fiancee for deciding not to marry him. He must look like a bank robber or a figure in a really bad nightmare. This is Hawthorne's most distasteful story.