Annotated Paragraph

“After performing the ceremony, Mr. Hooper raised a glass of wine to his lips, wishing happiness to the new-married couple in a strain of mild pleasantry that ought to have brightened the features of the guests, like a cheerful gleam from the hearth. At that instant, catching a glimpse of his figure in the looking-glass, the black veil involved his own spirit in the horror with which it overwhelmed all others. His frame shuddered, his lips grew white, he spilt the untasted wine upon the carpet, and rushed forth into the darkness. For the Earth, too, had on her Black Veil.”

Quotation from “The Minister’s Black Veil,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.


At the beginning of “The Minister’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mr. Hooper attends his mass wearing a black veil that covered all but his mouth. Right away the veil makes everyone, except his fiancé, Elizabeth, uncomfortable. Everyone avoided the minister and took part in gossip about what sin he could have committed to be wearing the veil. The people don’t ask why he is wearing it though. Instead, they are automatically fearful of what secret they think it represents.

The above paragraph from “The Minister’s Black Veil” gives great insight into Mr. Hooper’s character. The minister has been wearing the veil only about a day now and has already attended two masses and a funeral before the wedding. When the minister arrives at the wedding still wearing the black crape across his face, everyone is upset because they expected him to have removed it. Although the minister doesn’t see why everyone is treating him differently over a veil, he makes an effort to cheer up the guests with a toast. Right after the minister tries cheering up the guests, he sees his reflection in the looking-glass. At that moment he realizes that he is also mixed up in the terribleness of the black veil, and it gives him chills. He doesn’t drink any wine to accompany the toast, but drops the glass and leaves, making it seem that he was upset by his toast. Soon after the wedding, it is mentioned that the only weakness Mr. Hooper had was that he was very distrustful of himself, which leads me to believe that he didn’t like what he did, which was wish happiness to people when he didn’t mean it. It’s understandable why the minister didn’t feel happy at the wedding. The first day that he wears an article across his face, everyone stopped being friendly with him. Furthermore, it’s an article that typically represents mourning, but no one thinks that. They just assume that the minister is hiding something.

The author’s specific choice of words and their syntax give stories their meanings, help you to understand what’s happening and to be aware of characters feelings. I will use the last line of the paragraph to exemplify how word choice and order are important in understanding a story. Since “For” starts the last line, right after the minister left in a rush, it lets you know that the rest of the sentence is the reason why he left. The use of “too” implies that “the Earth” is referring to Mr. Hooper because he wasn’t acting like himself. He has only been wearing the veil for a day and  everyone is talking about him, and not to him. When someone wears a veil, it typically represents mourning. If the minister is mourning, I can imagine that he’d be upset when he forces himself to give a nice toast and then noone gives him a good response all because of a veil that they don’t understand. The past tense of “had” lets you know that the author doesn’t really mean the whole world was wearing a black veil because the only past event that had a change was the minister after he made his toast. Earlier in the paragraph, it is said the minister’s best quality is his pleasant happiness at weddings. Weddings make him happy so it’s never an effort for him to make toasts and be sincere. However, since everyone is suddenly not friendly with the minister because he has a piece of clothe across his face, it’s hard for him to be happy for them. He tries to please the guests and then realizes that he was putting on a façade by acting like his regular happy self when he was being treated very rudely. The “Black Veil” that is being referred to is the symbol of his black veil, which he clarifies on his death bed, when finally, the only person besides Elizabeth, tries to have him remove his veil. Mr. Hooper asks the people in the room, why they are appalled by him because of a veil. He says that he was himself to his friends, a lover to his love and that he was a man that didn’t “vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin.” He was always himself, in spite of everyone avoiding him, kids running away from him screaming, and his fiance leaving him because he wouldn’t remove his veil. He wore the veil as a symbol to represent the veils that he saw other people wearing when they changed so easily for things like a veil. The minister was well liked and was engaged to Elizabeth at the beginning of the story, but dies a, single, outcast all because he wore a black veil across his face.

Looking at the relationships between words used in relation to the plot and the repetition of ideas, can also emphasize something that is happening. This can help you to better understand and gain more pleasure from a story. A great example of a word that Hawthorne uses in this paragraph that relates to the story is “looking-glass.” The denotation of the looking-glass is of a glass that reflects a backwards image. At the same time that Mr. Hooper sees his reflection, he is also reflecting on his actions. I chose the above paragraph because it really shows the character of the minister and because it is a great example of how the authors choice of words and their order give much more meaning to the story.

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One response so far

One Response to “Annotated Paragraph”

  1.   Tonya Carrollon 13 Apr 2013 at 2:40 PM 1

    I am wanting to make a candle using a merlot candle scent and put it in a wine
    glass, using paraffin wax, not gel wax. I have the basic candle making stuff, is there anything special
    I need to know or do though?.

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