Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

"The Minister's Black Veil"

Define "symbolism." What will be the main symbol in "The Minister's Black Veil"?

(Please provide a quote from the story that answers the question, then explain why the quote you chose answers the question.)

Asked by
Last updated by judy t #197809
Answers 1
Add Yours

A symbol is something that represents itself and something else; the "something else" gives the symbol a deeper meaning. In this story, the obvious symbol is revealed in the title: "Black Veil" - it is a symbol of the minister not wanting to see himself in the mirror because that would cause him to have to examine himself and who he is, inwardly and outwardly. Probably the best quote is "Elizabeth, I will," said he, "so far as my vow may suffer me. Know, then, this veil is a type and a symbol, and I am bound to wear it ever, both in light and darkness, in solitude and before the gaze of multitudes, and as with strangers, so with my familiar friends. No mortal eye will see it withdrawn. This dismal shade must separate me from the world: even you, Elizabeth, can never come behind it!" She wants him to remove the veil, but he tells him he cannot share that part of himself with her. He will, in fact, continue to examine himself but cannot share everything with her the way one should share in a marriage.