The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Minister's Black Veil book cover
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Overview

The main characters in “The Minister’s Black Veil” include Reverend Hooper, Elizabeth, and Reverend Clark. 

  • Reverend Hooper is the reverend of a small Puritan town who frightens his parishioners by donning a black veil one day and refusing to remove it.
  • Elizabeth is Reverend Hooper's fiancée, who begs him to remove the black veil. She leaves him when he refuses, frightened of the veil.
  • Reverend Clark is a minister in a nearby town who visits Reverend Hooper at his deathbed.

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Characters

(Short Stories for Students)

Rev. Mr. Hooper
The Reverend Mr. Hooper is a minister in the small town of Milford, Connecticut, who shocks his congregation by appearing at Sunday services with a black veil covering nearly his entire face—only his mouth and chin are exposed. He wears this veil throughout the service to the dismay and bewilderment of his parishioners. Hooper is engaged to be married to Elizabeth, but abandons his marriage plans when she insists that he remove the veil or adequately explain its meaning. He can do neither. The mystery of the black veil isolates Hooper from his parish and his community, and this isolation is evident in his despairing cry to Elizabeth: "Oh! you know not how lonely I am, and how frightened, to be alone behind my black veil.'' Despite the loneliness the veil causes him to experience, he never removes it. As he is dying, he explains that he has worn the veil as an outward symbol of humankind's hoarding of secret sins. Hooper hides his face with the mysterious black veil even into death.

Elizabeth

Elizabeth is engaged to the Reverend Mr. Hooper, the minister who has, for some unknown reason, taken to wearing a mysterious black veil over his face. At first, Elizabeth is not affected by the horror that the veil seems to evoke in others. She considers it to be only a piece of crepe cloth hiding the face for which she has acquired some affection. But she, too, finally feels the veil's unsettling power when Hooper refuses her request to remove it. He explains...

(The entire section is 441 words.)