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

The Minister's Black Veil

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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What are some examples of figurative language in "The Minister's Black Veil"?

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Examples of figurative language in "The Minister's Black Veil" can be seen in the similes used to provide readers with a better idea of the veil and its impact. Hawthorne accomplishes this when Elizabeth feels the "terrors" of the veil fall around her, "like a sudden twilight in the air."

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Figurative language makes use of various figures of speech in order to make the writing or speech more effective. Some common figures of speech would be metaphors, similes, allusions, alliteration, and hyperbole.

Author Nathaniel Hawthorne uses figurative language to help the reader better understand the image of the veil and the impact that it has on the townspeople. One figure of speech that I think Hawthorne uses well is the simile. Similes are quite commonly used in order to create a more powerful image or connection in the minds of readers.

A simile makes a comparison between two objects or concepts, and the comparison is made using the words "like" or "as." Readers get a good simile in "The Minister's Black Veil" during the wedding sequence. Hooper raises a glass to his lips, and he then gives some pleasantries and well-wishes to the bridal couple. This kind of thing is a standard thing to do to a newly married couple, and it is meant to bring smiles and happiness to those who hear it. The comments should warm the heart, and Hawthorne gives readers a simile to explain how the comments should warm.

After performing the ceremony, Mr. Hooper raised a glass of wine to his lips, wishing happiness to the new-married couple in a strain of mild pleasantry that ought to have brightened the features of the guests, like a cheerful gleam from the hearth.

Another great simile comes when Elizabeth and Hooper are conversing with each other. Elizabeth is suddenly overwhelmed with "terror" at the sight of the veil. We are told that the feelings fell on her "like a sudden twilight in the air."

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