In The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the reader is introduced to a pleasant scene in Milford, a small Puritan town where men, women, and children mill about enjoying the prospect of another Sunday. This peace is interrupted by the arrival of Reverend Hooper who is described, in one of the important quotes from "The Minister's Black Veil" as being “a gentlemanly person of about thirty, though still a bachelor…dressed with clerical neatness, as if a careful wife had starched his band and brushed the weekly dust from his Sunday’s garb” (1253).
What is most notable about this otherwise plain and unassuming man, however, is that he is now suddenly and inexplicably wearing a black veil that hangs from his forehead and covers his eyes and nose. All that can be seen is his mouth and the veil moves eerily as his breath disturbs it. The people of the town cannot hide their shock and many of them are immediately frightened. One old woman says, “He has changed himself into something awful, only by hiding his face” (1253) and others generally agree that the Reverend has taken on quite a disturbing appearance, even though his polite and gracious behavior is the same as it was before donning the veil.
The Reverend’s preaching style, much like his appearance before taking up the veil, is quite unremarkable. The narrator of The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne says, “he had the reputation of a good preacher, but not an energetic one: he strove to win his people heavenward by mild persuasive influence rather than to drive them thither” (1254) but the addition of the veil has made his preaching far more interesting. His listeners pay him rapt attention and feel as though the veil lends a sanctity and foreboding that his normal appearance did not invoke.
At this point in the plot of “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, there is a definite turn in the way the people of the town perceive their minister. After the service, everyone stares...