In the story Reverend Hooper is described 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”, this would create a sense of ease, but then they see him wearing a veil and seem to distrust him and say that he was something very disturbing. Why do you think this disturbs them and upsets them so much? How is it that one can go from the sense of liking a person a lot to the feeling of major distrust?
Drew- I think the veil is considered disturbing because it is unusual and not standard it the community. The veil is black, which is often a symbol of death and darkness. It also covers Reverend Hopper's face which could be upsetting since most people can see emotions and reactions through one's face.
Drew - To answer part of your question, I think that the people started to feel such disapproval toward the minister is because we as human beings like to know everything and not question things. When he has covered his face, he has symbolically covered his soul and his personality.
Drew- I think that it may have been the contradiction. It was not just the veil that uneased them, but the change. The fact that a man who was before so neat and clean cut and normal looking could suddenly be wearing this strange veil. You may not mind someone dressed a bit oddly. But then if you see a friend who usually just wears normal shorts and t-shirts dressed super oddly, it would probably strike you as much wierder.
@ Drew:The black veil is a symbol of secret sin. This is a Puritan society which is completely opposite of darkness and this black. So that has to cause unease from the norm.
@ drew-- It is his face, especially his eyes. The face is the most human part of you, and people attach it to humanity. And, the eyes even more so. People are made uncomfortable when they can't see a persons face, or his eyes.
Drew -- When Mr. Hooper wore the veil, many thought it to be a symbol of hidden sin, causing people to automatically draw away from him and wonder what his sin might have been.
So just as a general question...In the text, one can infer that the veil symbolizes sin. Is there any other symbolism to it?
I think the veil creates an uncanny effect because when people read emotions on others' faces, people usually look to the eyes mostly, then other parts of the face. If someone cannot see the eyes, it would be very intimidating because one would not be able to read the other's thoughts.
Drew, i feel that when someone has such high respect for someone that when they begin to lead them astray, or act differently, that all the trust is gone. When they begin to act as if they are not who they usually are, that the likeness and the certainty of the person has vanished.
What is the significance of the secret sin in the story? How does the minister's veil and the secret sin connect?
Marie- I agree. It was largely the uneasiness caused by mystery. To know that somebody is hiding something, but not have any idea what.
@Drew- I think that the main reason was the people didn't know what was behind the mask. It made him very mysterious and so the people of the village assumed the worst. Also the fact that it covers their eyes is very unnerving and would put a lot of people in a discomforting position. The relationship between Hooper and the other townspeople must not have been that strong, because the people changed their feelings toward him so quickly.
Drew, I think that this can kind of relate back to the lottery. If there is any form of change in a society that is used to a certain way of life it causes things to be stirred up. It causes tension in the society.
Drew, It seemed to me that this society is still very centered around tradition and when something upsets that tradition, then it scares people. And it would also make them distrust Hooper because he is, in their eyes, hiding himself from the rest of the villagers.
Do you think anyone thought of faking their death so then he would bend over and they could see his face? Of course everyone would be in on it except him because otherwise they might actually barry them in the ground.
What do you believe that the Author (Hawthorne) is trying to say? He creates a disturbing story - almost to prove a moral ... this seems contradicting.
Drew, When you talk to someone, you look at their eyes. You get a similar feeling when you talk to someone with sunglasses. It gives you a lack of knoledge about that person.
A woman said that the minister had, "changed himself into something awful by hiding his face". What did she mean by that?
Haley -- Where in the text did you come to the conclusion that the story is set in a Puritan society?
Marie- The veil connects to the secret sin because everyone knows it is there, but they dont know what it is. The veil does not hide the presence of a secret sin, everyone can see that he is hiding something. It hides the sin itself, and nobody has any idea what his "secret sin" is.
In the story the author describes the veil to be simply black, why do you think the veil was black? Does that certain color have a purpose in this story?
How does the veil symbolize a hidden meaning that the author does not describe? Why does the minister feel he needs to be hidden by this veil for his entire life?Why do you think that this man always seemed to smile a "sad smile"?
Megg:I agree with you. I think that the veil is a symbol of secret sin that could represent the secret of adultury that is held within many hearts.
Meg-I think the veil also represented darkness and the unknown. I think it represents the hidden secret that everyone has.
Megg-I thought the veil symbolized a seperation of Mr. Hooper from the world, because after the duration of him wearing the veil, he looses bonds with people he had before he wore the veil.
Drew-- I know also that a lot of times veils were worn to hide deformity or distortion, so if anyone were to get an idea that something were physically wrong with him in some way (going along with Gothic literature) that it reflected some inner disturbance.
A common thought is that many people wear a "mask" so then they don't show their actual feelings. Do you think that he was trying to prove the point of everyone wears a mask, you could just see his mask rather than others?
Bridget - Right. I feel like mystery and the unknown is such a common theme in Gothic stories. Why do you think that all these stories tend to have this theme in common?
Marie, the secret sin and the veil connect because when people have a secret sin, you usually want to hide it and you put a veil over yourself so people can't see every part of you. Also, the veil represents the mask that many people put on to try and fit in with society, or to make others think everything is ok even when it's not.
Alex-I dont think anyone actually cared that much. I think it scared them and then they moved on. It was always unsettling but they just accepted that there was nothing that they could do about it. Even if someone did think of that, they probably decided that it was too risky of a tric to play.
@ AllI would for sure agree with all of you. I would say that people are always afraid of the unknown, but why is that?
I thought that one of the most interesting points of this story was the fact that the villagers did not lift the veil after his death. Why do you think Hawthorne included this?
@megI feel that the veil can symbolize the evil that is lurking in everyone. Hopper wears the veil to show that even in him, A PRECHER, he can posses the sin and the evil body that is found in everyone.
Amanda- The veil may be black because of what it symbolizes. It is secret sin. Black is a dark color, and usually has something to do with sin or evil.
@ kelsey-- How would you react if your mom's face changed? not a veil, but just different? And then immagine what it would be like if it wasn't a human face, but a piece of blackness that she never removed?
Alex B.-You bring a good point, and I think that is part of what he was trying to accomplish, or that was at least his cover story if it was for a different reason.
@Paige- I think he always has a "sad smile" because the author is trying to portray that he knows something no one else does. The author could be trying to show that the mysterious fact the Reverend knows could be happy.
Kelseyc-- I think that by putting on this veil, he was keeping himself from the world emotionally, which is not good for anyone. He was disconnecting and becoming impersonal, which couldn't have been good for him or anyone else.
Melissa, I was looking into the background of this story and found that the author had placed it in a Puritan Society. We introduced to a pleasant scene in Milford, a small Puritan town where men, women, and children lounge about enjoying another Sunday. They live simple, puritan lives/
Alex- that is a very interesting question. I think that first of all, it would be very hard to fake your death because you would have to stop your heart and your pulse, etc. But, I think that people had a curiosity for what this man was hiding, so I was wondering why people didn't break in and try to remove the veil? Also, I don't think the people fully understood the significance of the veil until the end.
Kelsey- Maybe the woman was trying to say that by wearing this veil that he purposely isolated himself from everyone else. So, he became awful by refusing to conform with everyone else.
@amandaBlack is the color of darkness. Normally when one sees that color they can feel death or sorrow or something other than happiness. If the veil was any other color than the effect would not be the same...
Meg-I agree with what Grant said. They veil not only symbolizes sins, it symbolizes separation. Mr. Hooper was a kind man, and people went to him for advice and even just to talk to him, but when he put that black veil on he became a "monster" to the townspeople. His fiancee left him, and he lived his whole life by himself. It just symbolizes that little things can completely cut you off from the rest of the world.
Grant- I agree that this veil separates him from the world. When the other minister is about to take the veil off in the end of the story he tells him not on this earth. I think after wearing it so long he has isolated himself from the world and now he doesn't want to go back to what he used to be.
Kailyn- That is a great point. I think it may have been because people were partially afraid to know. Also, because I'm not entirely sure there was actually anything to see beneath the veil. It is symbolic of his hidden sin, a sin that he took to the grave with him. Nobody else would ever know it.
@Drew- I think people are afraid of the unknown because we aren't familiar with it. People are only comfortable with things they know are for certain and have experienced. In the unknown there could be terrible things or something that we would not like so we are afraid of what those things could lead to.
perhaps the minister put on the veil to protect himself from other's faces, rather than to obscute his own.
Drew-- It seems to me like people find comfort in knowing the answers to things and often that they are not content until they feel they have kind of "mastered" something. If you know what I'm trying to say? haha. So I just think that basically if something is unknown to them it becomes uncomfortable and puts them in a fearful state.
Drew-- I think it's human nature. If something is known, we know how to handle it and we can cope. However, when something is unknown, we feel vulnerable and put ourselves at risk of embarrassment and pain if we expose ourselves to it.
Meg- Very good point. Let's just say however, that it was possible to do that and the fake the entire situtiation; do you think anyone ever thought of going to extremes like that just to see behind the veil and the answer the question that everyone wanted to know?
Alex- I thinl you are right. At the end of the story he says "look around me, and lo! on every visage is a Black Vail!" I think he was showing to everyone that they all have a veil hiding something.
The veil in this story is used to to represent something that is hidden, both iterally and figuratively. The man's refusal to take off the veil, even though it cost him his marriage, his reputation, his friends, and eventually all that he had, showed that he truly had something to hide. He constantly told people that he couldn't take off his veil, not really giving people a reason why, just telling them that he would not take it off. Could this man feel a sense of security under the veil? Could it make him feel safe, and secluded from the world so that he cannot be judged or rejected? People tend to fall back on the excuse that they feared the unknown, just like was discussed in the inner cirlce, and that is why they did not bother the man and his veil. The children ran from him, he had a single congregation, and he was not widely accepted in the society where he lived. He gave off a sense of mystery, which is a common theme in the Gothic genre of literature.
kelseythat is a good point....at the end he does not allow anyone to remove the veil even on his death bed...what significance does this have to the story?
Drew, I mentioned it in the inner circle, but basically it is a survival instinct from the brian to make us fear something we arn't shure of.
Kailyn, I think they left the veil on because Hawthorne wanted to emphasize the message or the moral that everyone has some kind of secret sin, that everyone has a black veil. Also, it had become so much a part of Mr. Hooper that they thought it would be a dishonor to his memory if they took it off.
I found it kind of ironic his sermon had to do with secret sin. No one in the town can comprehend the veil and they are even more disturbed by the fact that he does not seem to be acting out of the ordinary in the least. Everyone seems to agree that the veil is sinister and clouds the otherwise pleasant visage of the familiar minister. The chaos the small gesture of putting a veil on brings is outstanding.
Was Mr. Hooper trying to set an example by putting fear and the thought of the unknown into the people of the town? Or was this a personal trifle?
People keep talking about the fear of the unknown. I think there is more to it than just the minister's secret sin that they don't know. How could it connect to people's fear of themselves? Could the minister have made people begin to reflect on their own secret sins? Couldn't they be afraid of themselves?
Drew-People are afraid of the unknown because they dont know how to handle it. They cant think of every possible scenario and how to deal with each one. So they dont know if they will be embarassed, scared, or if they will be okay in the end. We as people like to know what is coming so that nothing scares us or anything, and the unknown is the exact opposite of that.
Many times in Gothic literature there seems to be an emphasis on the negative sides of human nature. And yet this differs slightly in this story. The people followed his wish to continue to be veiled after his death. Human nature coincides closely with curiosity; and in fallowing his wish they went against curiosity and against negative aspects of human nature.
I think that everyone wears a veil or a mask in one way or another in life... Why and how are there masks that people continue to wear day after day in our society.
I think we all agree that the veil symbolized secret sin. But did the veil symbolize secret sin in general, or Mr. Hooper's specific sin (it seemed like adultery was hinted at)?
Do you think that wearing a veil would be talked about as much if let's say a teenager decided to do this for the rest of their life instead of a total stranger?
Ally I agree with your response to me completely. I also think that we are very controlling as humans and that we want to be in control of everything and not have any unknown factors.
Kelsey, mabey one reson he keeps his face hidden is because he thinks that he is better or more holly than everyone else. Any thoughts?
Alex: so the issue was conformity? They were scared because they did not know the "why". Maybe the senseless feeling of the veil was what scared people. Without a "why" people could do anything.
@Kelsey, I like what you said about the veil being a source of protection for the minister. He could be trying to pull himself away from society, and using the veil and somewhat of a security blanket so that he oculd hide himself from the world. Is is possible the the thing he is trying to hide is himself?
Sami,In doing so they let ignorance prevail.
@ grant-- I believe it was a message to the town, yet also deeply personal , based on his reaction of its attempted removal on his deathbed.
Alex- yes, i think that if it was possible, the people would definetely attempt to see under the veil becacuse their curiousity would get the best of them. Just like the fear of the unknown discussed in the inner circle, the people were afraid in a curious and suspicious way of what was behind the veil.
Bridget - I agree. I feel like the people in the story were truly afraid of themselves but sort of put the blame on the minister. Like I said before, we are all afraid of mystery...even the mystery within us.
Kailyn- This story still is a commentary on the negatives of humans. The veil represented the hidden sin that everybody has. That in itself is a commentary of a negative.
Paige S- He might have felt safe, however i believe he feels more secluded than everything. As you said, kids ran from him and everyone thought it was odd, so he was not safe from judgement, or rejection.
Grant- I think he was trying to embody and personify the idea that everyone has a black veil. I think that he was trying to set and example and send a message but not to scare everyone in the town.
Bridget- I think it also it is more than just unknown. I think it is also that he is in a position of power and that, to them, he is someone who is almost a better person. He obviously holds power in the society and when someone with that much power starts to do something with no rhyme or reason people start to question and fear what has happened to them.
Katie in the inner circle just asked what changed the fiance's mind about Reverend Hooper and the veil. My response would be that she probably thought he would take it off for her because she was his beloved, she wanted to prove to herself that he would do it for her, but after she asked him to and he said no then she realized that it had become a part of him and was more important for her. Maybe she didn't want to be second priority to the veil.
Alex-I think it probably would be talked about, at least here. If all of a sudden someone we all knew decided to put on a veil and no one could see their face for the rest of their lives, people would talk. It would be a strange and foreign event, and that would scare people.
Alex B. - It is a possibility that there could be more talk about it if a teenager wore one, but that would be just because people usually see teenagers as uncaring about matters such as one concerning a veil.
What is Mr. Hooper's sin?What event caused this veil to be put on?
Drew-- Yeah! You have no power in a situation in which you have no previous knowledge of background. So are you saying fear of the unknown can come down to an issue of selfishness?
ben: maybe the veil was the exact opposite. Maybe it was a bit of a way to humble himself.
Melissa- I would say that it represented Mr. Hooper's specific sin because he kept saying that none would see his face on earth "on earth, never!". Maybe this was his way of repenting.
Kailyn -- I agree that human nature was portrayed in a positive way at the end of the story, but what about the veil? Mr. Hooper commented towards the end how everyone wears their own black veil. Perhaps there may have been a sense of balance that Hawthorne set in?
Ally- I agree with your statement. I think people mask their feelings often in today's society. Although not physically like the minister did but people often hold their personal struggles inside while putting on a physical display that would make others think they are not experiencing struggle.
Kailyn, How does that let ignorance prevail? They all knew why he was wearing the veil and on his death bed he used what little strength he had left to keep it on. If he wanted to keep it on that badly, the people of the town wanted to respect his last dying wish.
HaleyP- I'm thinking that he killed someone, otherwise I don't think any other secret could rashionalized the veil.
Haley -- I believe his sin was adultery with the woman who had died. He had started wearing the veil the day that she died and a sense of attachment with the her at the funeral was hinted at.
Kelsey, I agree. The veil seems to have been a way to hide himself from the world because of some great secret sin.
Why is the marriage part so vital to the plot?
Melissa- Great idea!! That or murder, only seem reasonable for the veil.
What do you all think the universal theme was in this story that Hawthorne was trying to get across? Can you notice this theme from the beggining or does the realization occur near the end. Also, in relation to house and guest and host, who/what is the house? Who is the guest?
@Ben- I think you have an interesting point in saying that he possibly felt like he was better then everybody else. I could see this being true because he wouldn't take the veil off for anyone and he most likely felt superior for being the only one with a veil. On the contrary, after Elizabeth rejected him he was very desperate: "He rushed forward and caught her arm. "Have patience with me, Elizabeth!" cried he, passionately." This quote shows his desperation to have someone stand by him and be with him. In that respect he is showing that he needs other people.
Haley- The narrator is never specific as to why he wears the veil or what he did to choose to wear the veil. Why do you think the author did this?
Alex;That's interesting you would say murder because Hawthorne himself accidently killed his best friend and wore a veil from his funeral until his own death.
Melissa and Bridget,I agree the whole idea of the veil is negative. But it is interesting that Hawthorne adds this balance
Ben: so the veil was like a public profession of a secrete sin.
Megg- I think that the idea of the story was that everyone has a secret sin. That there is no perfect person out there, even a minister.
Ally-- I would say that it seems that it is an issue of selfishness and wanting everything to be as you would like it. What do you think about it?
Haley..the story is possibly about himself? just changed the profession and names?
Haley-- I think te veil is sin in and of itself, signifying he was blinded by sin, and that his face was unworthy to be seen because of his sin.
HaileyJ- Marriage is so vital to the plot, because it showed that Mr. Hooper wasn't willing to take the veil off of anyone. That he was going to keep to his goal and have it one his entire life.
Kailyn -- It is very interesting how he put balance. It is less satirical in my view and, obviously, more realistic than some of the other Gothic stories we have read.
Hailey, The marriage is sapossed to be a joyous event that makes people happy. The purpose of the marriage might be to show how people feared the veil even though they are at a wedding.
Sarah: Maybe the author did this because then this story is sort of a blanket issue? Maybe it is showing us all that like Mr.Hooper said, we all have our own veils.
Hailey J. - I think the marriage part is vital to the plot because it showed early on in the story that Mr. Hooper really had a personality change from his cheery self at any other weddings to a saddened personality. Everyone expected him to be happy, but that was not the case, and it was due to the veil.
PaigeL-- Yes I think that more often than not people keep all of the junk that they are dealing with in their lives under the surface.. However, is this the best thing to do? I think that personally a lot of the hardships in life can not be bore alone, but that you need people to come alongside you to help you work through it... How is someone supposed to help if they have no idea something is going wrong? What do you think?
Hailey- I don't think the veil refers to a specific sin. I think that he had a realization that his life was full of sin and there was no way to be perfect, and he made a commitment to wear the veil to sort of hide or cover-up his sin. Also he mentions how he thinks everyone should wear a veil, and I don't think everyone has murdered someone or commited adultury.
Meg- I think the theme of the story is that everyone has something to hide. The veil was just Hopper's way of covering his secrets. No one is perfect and everyone has something to hide.
Do you think that making his "point" (that everyone wears a veil) would be worth not allowing for anyone to see your face for the rest of your life?
Kailyn- I'm not entirely sure the veil is negative. I think it served a very valuable purpose. He became a better pastor with the veil. The veil also made people reflect upon their own secret sin, and maybe even do something about it. The sin may be negative, and the veil may make people uneasy, but that doesn't mean the veil is negative.
Is having a veil really so bad though. To be completely open and "unveiled" would make a very shallow and uninteresting person. Part of life is learning about others and solving a few mysteries.
HaileyJ:It's a possibilty. We see the similarities Poe puts into his works and perhaps Hawthorn is the same.
Alex and BenI agree with you.Let me rephrase the question....did the joining of two souls have any deeper meaning due to the losing of Hopper's soul?
Why do you guys think that on the first sunday that Mr. Hooper wore the veil the narrator said the sermon was more powerful than normal and effected everyone in the congregation?
Kelsey, I think so. But, it seems to be more of a form of repentance than asking for forgivness.
Kailyn-I agree! I think that being interesting and mysterious makes life more interesting. If we all just said what we thought all the time and were compltetly honest, there would be nothing to talk about, or think about. It really is part of life that we arent honest all the time.
Drew-- I definitely agree... I think it's a matter of not wanting to step out of your comfort zone or not trusting anyone but yourself to know what's best.
When mr. hooper saw people, he saw thwm through the veil. So maybe this represents the sin in the lives of others, rather than in his own.
Megg- I definately agree. There may be one major, defining sin. But, it is more about the idea of secret sins. People's thoughts, actions, etc. Nobody has only one secret sin. It was there to represent sin in general. To represent the simple idea that nobody is perfect.
@Hailey- I think the marriage part is very vital because it shows that Hooper initially did care about someone and shared feelings with that person. To portray him as an actual human being. Also possibly to show that even something as sacred as marriage can be broken by the society and the perception of how that person is portrayed.
Alex B. - Interesting point; yes, it definately caught the attention of the people around him with wearing the veil however this was an extreme thing to do.
The man uses the veil also to cover up his sin, and tells others that they too should be wearing a veil, because they too have sin in them and need to hide their wrongs. The man uses this excuse to inflict a cultural anxiety on the people who listened to them. If you live with the veil all of your life, can you escape it in death? Katie asked this question in the inner circle. If you spend your whole life hiding from your wrongs, as well as other peoples, will you be able to accept them once you die?
Ally, I agree with you completely. On kind of a religious level I think that is why God puts certain people in your life. I think its near impossible for anyone to have the kind of strength to make it through life's struggles on your own.
Kailyn- Exactly! I think that just as Kristen was just saying, the veil doesn't have to be a bad thing. It helped people realize that they wern't perfect, and made them examine themselves.
Hailey- I agree with Megg, I don't think he committed any certain crime, but he was trying to personify his idea that everyone has something to hide and they are allowed to hide that secret but that it comes with a consequence, the metaphoric black veil.
Megg:So maybe it was one of those things that a Preacher/Pastor does to envoke a "trend" so to say. To encourage the congregation to follow in his place and recongize they are not perfect?
Bridget,mmm good point; but it did show a lack of innocence (exemplified by children running from him) And innocence is often a positive
How do you think the women of the middle east truly feel about having a veil over their face for the rest of their life in public? Mr. Hooperr had a choice of wearing a veil and these women don't.