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Word Count: 882
Like many writers of his time Hawthorne emphasized mans inner reality and those thoughts and feelings which are not immediately apparent As he explored this internal nature he not only found the source of dignity and virtue but also certain elements of darkness and violence In The Ministers Black Veil these elements are treated as real and inescapable forces in human existence The unifying theme is the conflict between the dark hidden side of man and the standards imposed by his puritanical heritage and the psychological and practical implications of this conflict Hawthorne brings evil and unauthorized desire into the circuit of puritan life and thereby conveys a profound truth that is disturbing in its implication namely that we can never hope to know each others true selves The themes in the story are suggested by the veil-symbol the tension between the minister and the community and the use of pro-Freudian psychological analysis The symbolic significance of the black veil lies in the physical and mental barrier that it creates between the minister and his environment and the guilt that it expresses Many people believe that the face provides information about a persons underlying characteristics and therefore about his or her probable behavior Thus by wearing the veil the minister takes away the basis on which people can predict his behavior This is the main cause of the ministers isolation although he is made unpredictable already by the mere act of wearing the veil Part of the frightening effect of the veil derives from the knowledge that the person behind it can see everything without being seen himself Each member of the congregation the most innocent girl and the man of hardened breast felt as if the preacher had crept upon them behind this awful veil and discovered their hoarded inequity of deed or thought Because the members of the congregation cannot see where their minister
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