9 November 2018
Sin of a Holy Man
Everybody deals with some sort of sin that they would go to great lengths to keep a secret. Sins such as these are the kind to ostracize one from their community, so when and if one were to put their sin on display, that person would inherently become a major talking point. This is precisely what happens in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Minister’s Black Veil”; Minister Hooper dawns a symbolic black veil, representing some mysterious sin he has committed and wears it for the rest of his life. People he has known his entire life start to treat him differently and wild rumors come about of the atrocities he has supposedly committed, all because of his black veil. It can be said that Hooper becomes such a spectacle because those around him are projecting their sins onto him in an attempt to avoid facing their own demons. Whether it is the fact that somebody as holy as himself is no freer of sin than anybody else is, that those around him are projecting their insecurities on him, or that the people he held close to him have since abandoned him, Hawthorne suggests that every single person has had some sort of secret sin they are trying to hide.
It seems to be common belief, at least within their respective religions, that highly regarded religious leaders: pastors, reverends, popes, leaders, etc., are perfectly holy beings with no ill-will or sin in their hearts. Nobody considers the fact that before any of those people became who they are, they were just regular people; now just regular people with religious responsibilities. The fact of the matter is, human beings are flawed. Regardless of whether one repents and atones for their sins, humans inherently lie, cheat, steal, and blaspheme. Reverend Hooper is a perfect example of this. He is seen as a divine holy man, one who is loved and trusted wholly by his community. Because of his status, nobody around him seems to divulge into the fact that he is a man first and foremost. The possibility of a man such as himself committing any sort of sin probably seems taboo to most. The narrator in “The Minister’s Black Veil” states “With one accord they started, expressing more wonder than if some strange minister were coming to dust the cushions of Mr. Hooper’s pulpit” (Hawthorne 368). When Hooper comes out, with that black veil over the majority of his face, every single person who sees him is taken aback. They express more wonder and confusion than they would have if an entirely different minister had shown up for the sermon that day. What could he be hiding? What could he have done? Reverend Hooper of all people? They do not even definitively know whether Hooper has done anything, and they are already on edge. Regardless of Hooper’s actions, the act of committing sin, even the symbolic gesture of committing sin, paints him as an entirely different person in the eyes of everyone, including his loved ones.
Being that Hooper’s sin...