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

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

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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The Minister's Black Veil

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