What are the common discussion points on "Young Goodman Brown" & "Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne?Put "quotes" around the area you use and then write a sentence to follow up that...

What are the common discussion points on "Young Goodman Brown" & "Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne?

Put "quotes" around the area you use and then write a sentence to follow up that source with your discussion. Not a plot or summary of the stories.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One common discussion point for Nathaniel Hawthorne's two stories "Young Goodman Brown," and "The Minister's Black Veil" is what Hawthorne referred to as "secret sin."  He once remarked that the "saddest of all prisons" is a person's "own heart."  For, guilty secrets serve to isolate people from the world and from their relationships with others.

In "The Minister's Black Veil" the Reverend Mr.Hooper dons a black veil which conceals his face. and the congregation does not know whether he has sinned and wishes to conceal his eyes as "the windows of his soul," or if he has seen something in their eyes that he desires to conceal.  Nonetheless, as a consequence of this ambiguity, the members of his congregation no longer invite him to dinner; they walk the other way when they see him, and his betrothed leaves him after he refuses her request to remove the veil.  This "dismal shade" separates its wearer from his society.  Yet, Mr. Hooper tries vainly to get his congregation to remove their symbolic veils and as he urges,

show his inmost heart to his friend...to his best-beloved...and not shrink from the eye of his Creator. 

If they will do this, Hooper declares that then he will remove his veil.  Sadly, however, they do not reveal their secret sins, and Mr. Hooper dies with his veil on:

...but awful is still the thought, that it moldered beneath the Black Veil!

Likewise, in "Young Goodman Brown," Brown wears the figurative veil of hypocrisy as he believes that he can accompany the old man with the twisted walking stick who resembles his grandfather into the forest at night where the Black Mass is being celebrated.  When Brown sees his wife Faith being tested by the Devil, cries, "My Faith is gone!" and, after watching for a while asks, "But where is Faith?" as he "trembles."  After this experience, Brown hypocritically cannot believe that good exists in anyone when in actuality the true meaning of his cry that his Faith is gone is that he himself has lost his faith.  When his wife, with her innocent pink ribbons greets him the next morning "with such joy," he looks

sternly and sadly into her face, and passed on without a greeting.

From then on, Goodman becomes  a "stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man."  He is isolated by his hypocritical belief that he is the only good man and the others "blasphemers."  When he dies, although there is a "goodly procession," Brown's "dying hour was gloom" in his terrible isolation of his secret sin as well as his isolation from the hearts of others, a death much like that of Mr. Hooper.

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Young Goodman Brown

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