from The Minister's Black Veil: A Parable by Nathaniel Hawthorne
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There is a high degree of mystery behind this dark veil. Puritans hate mysteries and their imaginations go straight to the gothic and the forbidden. Many people projected the dark mystery of the veil upon themselves. It seems that they never truly understood, or repented, their actions, as the story closes with the frightful thought that the minister’s face still lay behind the veil even in death. Other interpretations believe the veil acted as a mirror, making all the townspeople more aware of their own sins. The more aware they became of their own sinful nature, the more uncomfortable they were, and thus being around the minister and seeing his veil troubled them deeply, even during happy times. Finally, other critics have claimed that the minister had committed a grave offense, such as adultery with the girl whose funeral he attended, and this was the reason that he could not tell Elizabeth what his crime had been.