Milton Stewart’s comment is remarkable in this regard, “Evil will forever reign over good, for the peccable, weak souls of todays youth are for more intelligent than any of us will ever be.” Nathaniel Hawthorne has incorporated this theme in some of his works of great significance, for instance, ‘The Scarlet Letter’ and ‘Young Goodman Brown’. Hawthorne through his work ‘The Minister’s Black Veil’ tends to identify individual flaw with universal character of mankind using a symbol, which hides the physical but reveals the abstract.
The short story of Hawthorne uses the black veil as a symbol, which gains prominence in the very title of the story. The black veil predominates the very plot and theme of the story. The story initiates in front of the church where the funeral ceremony of a young maiden is being held and the minister appears with a black veil covering more than half of his face. Only his mouth and chin were visible and the onlookers search for the reason behind it. When he bends over the maiden the veil hangs such that if the corpse’s eyes are open she can see his face. This again raises a question about the reason why he is hiding his face and what his “secret sin” is. He immediately catches the veil with his hand to keep the face covered. Even his wife cannot get a definite answer and the minister declares that he is going to wear the veil throughout his life. Many critics have questioned the purpose of using the veil but according to Carnochan, the black veil serves more as a “symbol of symbols” than simply a “parable of guilt”. The purpose of the veil is to reflect a meaning on one hand and on the other, hide it – “inviting speculation and resisting it” (Freedman, 354). Once the face is revealed the significance of the veil will be lost. The purpose of using the veil in the story is to initiate emotions of an individual. The plot tactfully reveals the curiosity of the townspeople,