What does Reverend Hooper tell Elizabeth the veil is? What two possible explanations for wearing the veil do they discuss?
After the other members of the congregation have attempted to talk Mr. Hooper out of wearing the veil and failed to even start the conversation, Mr. Hooper's fiancee Elizabeth decides to talk to him herself. When she asks him why he wears the veil, he replies:
Know, then, this veil is a type and a symbol, and I am bound to wear it ever, both in light and darkness, in solitude and before the gaze of multitudes, and as with strangers, so with my familiar friends.
According to Mr. Hooper, the veil is a symbol of separation and solitude that he must wear during the remainder of his time on this earth. They then discuss two possible reasons why he might wear the veil: as an expression of sorrow or because of shame for a secret sin. Mr. Hooper claims that any human being has experienced enough sorrow to warrant a veil and committed enough secret sins to warrant one as well. Ultimately, he refuses to confide in Elizabeth his true reason for wearing the veil and she begins to feel the same alienation from and disgust towards him as the others do. Ultimately, Mr. Hooper is unable to explain his choice to wear the veil to even his closest confidant and friend, driving home his loneliness and isolation.