Young Goodman Brown and Other Hawthorne Short Stories

The Minister's Black Veil

How might one describe the society presented in the story of "The Minister's Black Veil"?

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Society is built on religion and superstition. Church is very important socially and it looks like the nucleus of the town. Social conformity looks to be very important as well. There are a number of ways to interpret the relationship between the townspeople and the minister. In one case, as described above, the people fear what they do not understand, and attribute any strange behaviors to madness or a certain evil. At no point in the story do the people attempt to consider the symbolic significance of the veil, rather they gossip about what actions caused Hooper's apparent shame. The townspeople are driven by curiosity and superstition rather than humanity.