The Innate Nature of Sin
Nathaniel Hathorne was an author who consistently wrote about sotires of the Puritan time. His short stories often revolved around themes of sin and how no one could escape from committing sin. The short stories “The Minister’s Black Veil” and “Young Goodman Brown,” written by Hawthorne, reflect these themes through elements of fiction, such as plot, setting, symbolism, and point of view. “The Minister’s Black Veil” is about a town’s minister who walks into Sunday Congregation with a heinous black veil covering his face. The veil shields him from the sins of the rest of the world, and the rest of the world from his ...view middle of the document...
This reaction gives hints about what may be behind the black veil. It shows that what is behind the black veil is so dark, and horrible that even a dead body has a reaction, and the only reaction a dead body can have is fear of what may be coming next. At its end, there’s nothing the corpse can do about its life and how it was lived: with or without sin. Seeing all the sin behind the veil scared the corpse, as it was a reflection of all the sin it could not longer escape. All of its sin had caught up with the corpse as it lay in the coffin. Then the Minister continued to make a sermon, praying that everybody be prepared for death when what is underneath the veil is revealed. This scene says that death is when all of one’s sins come to catch up with them, and everything underneath the veil is revealed as they are judged before God. The veil, in this sense, can be anything as a cover for sin. For the Minister, it was a physical a piece of cloth that covered his face. For other’s it can be their personalities; how they behave around others can deceive others of their sin. After the funeral, the Minister goes to a wedding and just about he’s about to take a sip of his wine, after wishing the couple happiness, he sees his own reflection: “catching a glimpse of his figure in the looking-glass, the black veil involved his own spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed all others. His frame shuddered – his lips grew white – he spilt the untasted wine upon the carpet – and rushed forth into the darkness.” (“Black Veil” 338) In this scene, the Minister is, for the first time, seeing himself with the veil. His reaction is much similar to that of his congregation: fear.. Here, we see an element of fiction: Symbolism. The veil is symbolic for sins the Minister has committed. When he sees this veil, hHe feels fear – so much fear – that he drops what he is holding and flees. The fear of sin the veil ignites in him causes him to run, , as if to escape from them. He cannot let anyone see what he sees, as he is the only one who truly knows what his sins are. His sins are so frightening because he knows that eventually he will be accountable for every single one, and the veil will one day be pulled off. Even he, the Minister of the church, cannot escape from his sin, and eventually at death, everyone’s sins will catch up with him or her: At that point, there is nowhere to run.
The next story, “Young Goodman Brown,” is about a young man who is leaving his wife to go meet someone in the forests. He meets a man, who looks like an older version of himself, (actually the devil) and tells him that he wishes to go back to his village. He tells the man, his family was full of good Christians, and that he is ashamed to be associated...