In Hawthorne's "The Minister's Black Veil," Reverend Hooper's first sermon concerns secret sin. The townspeople are all rather taken aback by both the veil and the darker, gloomier tone of the sermon.
Of course, following the sermon is the funeral of a young woman from the town. The funeral, the veil, and the sermon are not mere coincidences; they are all inter-connected, leading many of the townspeople to believe that Reverend Hooper and the young woman were romantically involved.
Reverend Hooper continues to wear the black veil for the rest of his own life, refusing to remove it even on his own deathbed.
In Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil” the minister one day begins to wear a black veil. The veil is used as a symbol to represent mankind’s secret sins. The minister has already made his congregation curious and concerned. He stands before the congregation and begins his sermon. The minister addresses his congregation on secret sins and how one hides the sins away from others, even those who know one best.
The subject had reference to secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide from our nearest and dearest, and would fain conceal from our own consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect them. (Hawthorne)
The minister explains to his congregation that in many ways we fool ourselves by hiding the sin as if God does not even see it. Looking upon the veil the people begin to realize that seeing the veil is also a reflection of their own sins. Guilt begins to take over each person in the congregation for they feel like the minister has exposed their sins.