An allegory is a story, poem or picture that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning; in this case it would be a moral one. There is a major symbol in the, “Ministers Black Veil” which the minister always has covering his face. The symbol is the black veil, which many interpret differently. The black veil stands for sin and shame. We do not know what exactly the minister has done throughout the story but we have an idea that he has done something shameful because he does not take the veil off and refuses to tell his wife anything about the situation, which is ultimately why she leaves him. The townspeople also have their own “black veils” as they are sinners but hypocrites who condemn the minister and gossip about his possible crimes. They are frightened from him at all of the events, which he attends such as the funeral and wedding. Even the minister himself is afraid when he sees his reflection in the wine glass at the wedding and runs away from fear.
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Others believe he is hiding something, possibly a shameful sin. However, the minister does not acknowledge his own strange appearance or the reactions of the people. He delivers a powerful and moving sermon as he usually does but the townspeople feel certain sadness to his words. Outside the church, he is greeted with bewildered looks from people and they try their best to avoid him. He tried to greet children and salute neighbors but they did not want to come into contact with him.
The big question is why did the minister decide to wear the veil. It is more of the reaction of the townspeople, which is the focal point of the story. They have sin and a very big hypocritical nature. While trying to figure out what horrible crime the minister has committed, they overlook their own sins. The minister becomes someone who is only wanted in times of need but not in times of happiness. They turn their backs on the minister only because of a simple veil, and in doing so directly demonstrate how weak in faith they really are. The message he is giving the people in church is that they fear what they do not understand and correlate any strange behavior directly to crime or shamefulness. At no point, do the people consider the veil to be symbolic, but rather gossip about what action the minister has caused.
My reaction to the story is very clear. I believe the people are very hypocritical and ignorant. Here, we have a very energetic minister who delivers such moving and beautiful sermons to these people. One would think through all of these sermons and lectures, their faiths would be strengthened but it isn’t. They immediately fail the test by assuming the minister committed a horrible sin and do not stop gossiping about it. They do not even attempt to console the minister or try speaking with him. The minister is left in a very lonely state especially when his own wife leaves him and he dies alone with the veil still on. People should not immediately assume something just because it looks a certain way. They should in another sense, look through the veil, and still see that person is the same minister who has taught and enlightened them very much. Everybody makes mistakes in life and people are so quick to condemn others without even evaluating themselves. I believe the townspeople acted harshly and unfaithfully.