Nathaniel Hawthorne: Insecurity, Judgment, and Revenge

Essay by B22BonezHigh School, 11th gradeA+, October 2003

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Most people dream of a utopian society, a society which cannot exist because people lean toward the universal problems of judgment, and revenge while struggling with guilt, jealousy and insecurity. Nathaniel Hawthorne unquestionably articulates his acquaintance with these human characteristics and documents his insights in several thought provoking short stories and novels where many of the characters either succumb or meet the challenge of dealing with theses problems. He exposes these flaws of humanity in three memorable stories - "The Minister's Black Veil," "The Birthmark," and The Scarlet Letter. In "The Minister's Black Veil" a highly welcomed Minister decides to wear a black veil to show the sins everyone hides inside. "The Birthmark" introduces a scientist who despises his wife's small birthmark on her beautiful face and wishes to remove it. The Scarlet Letter tells the tale of an adulteress affair between a young woman and a local reverend along with how their different ways of expressing their guilt lead to two different experiences and existences.

Hawthorne's eloquent writing offers readers' the opportunity to glimpse at how destructiveness qualities of insecurity, judgment and revenge lead to roads of disaster which can destroy people.

In "The Minister's Black Veil," the town minister, Mr. Hooper, dons a black veil that "entirely [conceals] his features, except the mouth and chin," (Minister 179). Mr. Hooper takes on the life task of acting as a mirror to the people around him, reflecting the conscious and well being of each individual soul. Upon attending his first sermon, people shuffle around, bobbing their heads to catch a slight glimpse of Mr. Hooper. The entire congregation from "the most innocent girl and the man of most harden breast" can feel Mr. Hooper "[creep] upon them, behind his awful veil, and [discover] their hoarded iniquity of deed or thought,"...