The Minister's Black Veil, Nathaniel Hawthorne
"The Minister's Black Veil" is a short story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was first published in the 1836 edition of The Token and Atlantic Souvenir, edited by Samuel Goodrich. It later appeared in Twice-Told Tales, a collection of short stories by Hawthorne published in 1837. (From Wikipedia)
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The Minister's Black Veil, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of this short story, is one of America's best-known 19th century writers. He is well-known for his fascination with the Puritan era. For more information about this time period, watch the video below. How might the information you learn in this video help you have a greater understanding of the characters and themes in this story? (This annotation contains a video)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently. Try it now with the word "Goodman," and then answer the question that follows.
Based on the definition of the word "Goodman," which describes the word as archaic, what can you infer about the setting of this story?
Which of the following is true about Mr. Hooper's black veil?
Hawthorne refers to the veil as a "simple piece of crape," yet it obviously carries much greater significance than a simple scrap of fabric. When an object holds abstract meaning beyond its literal definition, this is called symbolism. For more information on how to recognize and interpret symbols in a text, watch the video below. As you continue to read, pay close attention to each description of the veil. At the end of the story, see if you can figure out the deeper meaning of the veil, as intended by the author. (This annotation contains a video)
How does Mr. Hooper's sermon today compare with his usual sermons?
In some stories, symbolism is developed by the author in such great detail that the story can be termed an allegory. While a single symbol simply represents an idea, a heavily symbolic story with a deeper social or political message is an allegory. For more about how to recognize this type of work, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on details from the text, what does Mr. Hooper's "sad smile" most likely indicate?
Based on the conversation between the woman and her husband, which of the following is most likely something a typical member of Mr. Hooper's community is saying about his veil?
Several details about the young lady's funeral give this part of the story an eerie mood: especially phrases like "the corpse had slightly shuddered," and "the minister and maiden's spirit were walking hand in hand." The Puritan community is not typically one known for superstition or stories of supernatural events. However, this is a typical element of a story by Nathaniel Hawthorne during the era of American Romanticism. For more about this time period, watch the video below. As you continue reading, look for other elements of the Romantic period in the story. (This annotation contains a video)
Notice how the simple act of wearing the black veil has led to speculation and rumor-mongering among the people in Mr. Hooper's community. What sort of rumors are being spread about Mr. Hooper and his possible motivation for wearing the veil? Watch the video below to learn more about themes and how they develop in a text. As you continue to read, consider what themes related to secrets and rumors the author might be developing. (This annotation contains a video)
In this passage, who "rushed forth into the darkness"?
The village is abuzz with the news of Hooper's black veil. While the author uses some humor in this passage to indicate the town's obsession, there is also a growing sense of uneasiness. The author is building conflict with these details. As you continue reading, consider how the author continues to build and develop the conflict of the story.
Which words in this passage best help to establish the author's tone?
When analyzing a short work of fiction like this one, it is important to consider the narrator's perspective. In this work, since the narrator remains outside the action of the story, the reader is removed from the innermost thoughts of the characters. As you continue to read, think about why the author carefully considered and then chose this objective point of view. Later, you will be asked a question about the effect that this perspective has on the story.
Which of the following best describes how Mr. Hooper's fiancee feels about the veil at this stage in the story?
What does the minister's fiancee mean by this statement?
As Hooper admits here, black is a symbol for death and grief in many different cultures and eras, from the Roman empire, when a black toga was worn to indicate mourning, to modern day funerals where loved ones appear in dark suits. As you look at the photograph below, think about how the color and style of the veil affect the mood of the picture. How does this image help you understand the way Hooper's community feels when they see the black veil covering his face? (This annotation contains an image)
The idea of secret sin or shame continues to develop in this part of the story. When Hooper asks "what mortal might not do the same," what point is he trying to make to Elizabeth?
After Hooper fails to confide in her, how does the veil begin to affect Elizabeth now?
During this moment of intense conflict between Hooper and the woman he loves, the author is clearly developing a sense of tension. What effect does this tension have on the reader? For more about how an author can use tension to affect a reader's emotions, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the context of the sentence, which of the following possible definitions of bugbear is most likely the one that fits the author's intentions?
Do you think the above image adequately depicts how the townspeople are reacting to the veil? Does it accurately depict the minister himself? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
As you read about the townspeople's reactions to the veil, take a close look at the illustration below. Then, answer the question that follows. (This annotation contains an image)
The author writes that the veil, while leading to endless suspicion in the parishioners and deep sorrow in Hooper, makes Hooper a "very efficient clergyman." Think again about the idea of secret shame: how does this idea help you understand why the people of the community simultaneously fear and respect their minister?
What does the nickname "Father Hooper" not indicate about the community's perception of the minister?
The author uses personification in this passage to compare Hooper's heart to a prison. For more about how personification can intensify language, watch the video below. By using this particular description, what does the author make clear to the reader about Hooper's solitude? (This annotation contains a video)
As Father Hooper approaches the end of a long life, he is beloved but still mysterious to the community - and to the reader. Would this still be the case if this story were told from a first person perspective? Using textual evidence in your response, explain how the author's choices regarding point of view impact the story.
What does Father Hooper imply with this statement?
Pay attention to Hawthorne's use of language in this passage. Throughout the story, the reader (along with the people of Milford) has been curious about what the minister hides behind the veil. As Father Hooper is on his deathbed, the moment of truth is inevitable, yet there is a dramatic pause here before he smiles and ultimately speaks his last words. How does the delaying of Hooper's message add to the feeling of increasing tension just before the novel's climax?
As you read Hooper's message, which contains the long-awaited reason for wearing the black veil, try to paraphrase his speech by putting it into your own words. Compare your understanding of the text to the image below. (This annotation contains an image)
Quiz, The Minister's Black Veil
Based on details from the text, which of the following is most likely to be the reason why Father Hooper is buried in his veil?