close-up portrait of a figure dressed in black wearing a black veil

The Minister's Black Veil

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Start Free Trial

What does Mr. Hooper do when the Reverend Mr. Clark tries to remove his veil?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Late in his life, Father Hooper has become something of a celebrity within the religious community as a powerful and effective minister, but also for his peculiar black veil and the rumors that surround it. As he is on his death bed, the Reverend Mr. Clark is summoned to give him his last rites. As Father Hooper seems to be on the verge of death, Mr. Clark suggests that Father Hooper should remove his veil and lift the cloud of mystery and suspicion that has surrounded his life. As Mr. Clark bends forward to lift the veil, Father Hooper lifts both his hands and holds tightly to the corners of his veil and exclaims that he will never remove his veil. Mr. Clark then inquires as to what horrible sin Father Hooper has committed that he refuses to remove the veil. As he is expiring Father Hooper replies:

Why do you tremble at me alone?...I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a Black Veil!

Father Hooper leaves his final companions with the same horror and dread which he caused in life and is ultimately buried the way he lived, with his face covered in a black veil.  Hooper's black veil conceals the reality of his existence, sealing him off from others around him. Hooper's unwillingness to remove this veil demonstrates our inability as humans to communicate the true nature of our existence with one another and ultimately suggests that we all live among others but truly in solitude.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team