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Nathaniel Hawthorn: “The Minister’s Black Veil” and “The Birthmark” Essay (Review)

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Updated: Jun 11th, 2022

Nathaniel Hawthorn is often considered the most widely accepted short story writer and novelist in 18th century American literature. Analyzing his works a reader can often find the glimpses of Puritan ideologies combining with ancient romance and symbolism. ” The Minister’s Black Veil “and “The Birthmark” are regarded as the most popular works of Hawthorne. His work “The minister’s Black Veil” is received and praised by both readers and critiques as the greatest American short fiction. The protagonists of both stories, Mr. Hooper and Aylmer suffer from pride and, instinctually cold and dreadful isolation.

Hawthorn’s stories often lead the reader to believe the fact that most of his characters suffer from pride and cold intellectuality. The characters of Mr. Hooper in “The Minister’s Black Veil “and Aylmer in “The Birthmark “are suffered from the same type of isolation and severe pride. The veil has played a significant role in the story “The Minister’s Black Veil “.Mr. Father Hooper lives in the small town of Milford and he wore the black veil for the rest of his life. Both material and ideological isolation is the crucial problem of Hooper and he believes that he can overcome this problem through wearing the veil. Reader can see Hooper likes to wear the veil in his life because he did not like to expose his real face to the outer world. This veil therefore cut off him for the companionship of the other people in the society. Some people believe that he is affected by madness, and others laugh when they notice Mr. Hooper Mr. Hooper often points out that veil is the suitable symbol of the idea of secret sin. The first part of the story reveals that Mr. Hooper sinned, here reader can see that the murdering attempt of Hopper against a young lady. The shadow of pride haunts Hooper in his entire life and the author remarks that all people have been wearing the mask of the sin in the world. Mr. Hooper’s fellow beings suggest he leave the veil but his pride never permits him to obey their suggestions. Hooper’s efforts to hide the sin from others lead him to severe isolation and never-ending suffering. His extreme pride constitutes superiority complex and cold intellectuality. Mr. Hooper utilizes his intellectual abilities to hide the sin and this paved the way for unending sufferings. His justifications for the sin prove his cold intellectuality and he tries to find peace after the death. Hawthorne asserts; “When Mr. Hooper came, the first thing that their eyes rested on was the same horrible black veil ,which had added deeper gloom on the funeral and could portent nothing but evil to the wedding” (Hawthorne, 1865, P.40).

The character of Mr. Father Hooper suffers from loneliness because the people did not have any interest in making the relationship with Mr. Hooper because of his arrogance. The reader can also find that Elizabeth, his fiancée, breaks her engagement with Mr. Hooper. Because Elizabeth try to find behind the real appearance of the veil but she did not satisfy the answerer of Hooper. He says the veil is used the till the end of his life. So it is clear for a reader to conclude that these kinds of arrogant nature of mind of Mr. Hooper are formed by the result of pride and cold intellectuality and isolation.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” discusses the theme of the relation between nature and man. This story points out that the true picture of human intellect. Aylmer is the central figure of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”. Aylmer is less intelligent to manage with imperfection. Aylmer is a scientist, who believes that he has the ability to expand a solution for anything. Like Mr. Hooper Extreme pride and superiority complex lead him to a world of loneliness. The husband tries to remove his wife’s birthmark which gives her extra beauty. Reader can feel the pressure through the words of Georgiana. “Danger? There is but one danger-that this horrible stigma shall be left upon my cheek” she continues “Remove it ,remove it whatever be the cost or well shall both go mad” (352). Aylmer doesn’t accept his wife’s beauty or his pride and cold intellectuality prevent him to enjoy the beauty. Georgina is the wife of Aylmer; she is very calm, humble and beautiful woman. On her cheek she has a beautiful birthmark, it gives the more beauty to that lady. But her husband Aylmer is not like that birthmark and tries to remove the birthmark and finds a potion that he believes will remove the imperfection of his wife’s face. Aylmer’s imperfection attitudes and his inner conflicts led him to the murdering of his wife. After that he led into the world of solitude and severe isolation. His pride and superiority complex prevents him to mingle with others and the guilt feeling pulled him into a world of frustration

To conclude, analyzing Nathaniel Hawthorne’s characters Mr. Hooper and Aylmer, one can see that they suffer from the problem of their own pride and isolation. Mr. Hooper struggles with the haunting memories of the young lady while Aylmer fears the memories of his wife. A reader can see that they were being punished by their own pride. Both Hooper and Aylmer did not realize and understand their fellow people’s love and care because of their isolation and cold intellectuality and also their pride lead them to live in solitary world.


Hawthorne, N. (1865). Twice-told tales, Volume 1. Ticknor and Fields. Web.

The birthmark: A study of Nathaniel Hawthorne. (Provided by the customer).

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Nathaniel Hawthorn: "The Minister's Black Veil" and "The Birthmark"." June 11, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-ministers-black-veil-and-the-birthmark-review/.


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