Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

The Minister's Black Veil

What are the attitudes revealed in the story about the values held by the Puritans? How did Hawthorne feel about Puritanism?

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Hawthorne was adept at showing the hypocrisy and narrow mindedness of Puritan communities. Their strict interpretations of the Bible were often at odds with the things that make us human. Other many critics 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.