What are the plot, characters, theme, and major symbol of the story?

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bmadnick eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It will be impossible to give you very many details on each of these literary elements in this space, so I suggest you reread the short story and go to the websites below for more details.

The plot revolves around the black veil that Parson Hooper begins wearing and never removes. The veil seems to reflect Hooper's whole being, hiding a secret that he will share with no one. People begin staying away from him, and his actions become more and more depressing and strange. His fiancee, Elizabeth, begs him to take the veil off, but he refuses, and she breaks off their engagement. Hooper gets sick and dies and is buried with the veil still on his face. Before dying, he says that all people wear a veil of some kind that hides a secret. One other character important to the story is the Rev. Clark from a nearby town.

There are several themes in the story. One is isolation and loneliness because once Hooper puts on the veil, no one will go near him. Another theme deals with the veil that all people wear to hide their faults or sins. In fact, the veil itself represents the hidden secrets of people that they don't want anyone to find out about. Ironically, Hooper reveals his sin of pride by wearing the veil rather than the veil hiding his sin of pride.

Again, this just touches on the information you asked for. Go to the sites below for more.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The plot deals with several themes, but the most important to Hooper is that of the darkness of humankind.  He wears the veil in order to symbolize the dark side of human nature in order to become closer to his congregation and to understand humanity as a whole.  He does become a better minister to the parsonage, however, the whole plan backfires on him.  When he refuses to remove the veil, even for his financee Elizabeth, the town begins to assign guilt to him--thinking the veil represents some secret sin he has committed and is attoning for--they in turn away from him as a person.  Even Elizabeth can not stay with him when she believes he has done something that he can not even breathe to her.

Sin, isolation, and forgiveness are major themes in the story. Follow the link below to get more details.

Read the study guide:
The Minister's Black Veil

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