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Theme of Sin in The Scarlet Letter and The Minister's Black Veil

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The Scarlet Letter and 'The Minister's Black Veil' were written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The main character in The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne, and the main character in 'The Minister's Black Veil,' Reverend Hooper, are both treated as outcasts for the same reason; they are thought to have committed a terrible sin. The two literary works lack similarities pertaining to genre, but they display a variety of similar themes portrayed through the use of symbolism and character interaction.

The Scarlet Letter is considered a romance novel and 'The Minister's Black Veil,' a gothic short story. The Scarlet Letter contains scenes that represent elements of romanticism. For example, the novel talks about the burning sensation that the scarlet letter radiates. This is done to play up or romanticize the pain that the letter caused Hester. 'The Minister's Black Veil' and the Puritans' negative reaction to it are used to portray the dark and mysterious aspects of gothicism throughout the piece. The stories are classified into separate genres.

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The theme ofboth literary works by Hawthorne is sin or, more specifically, secret and public sin. Themes such as, shame, fear, and societal judgement are portrayed through the Puritans' reactions to sin or so-called sin. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester wears a scarlet letter A to symbolize her, now public sin of adultery. In 'The Minister's Black Veil,' Hooper's veil indicates the possibility of a secret sin, as well as the metaphor that is mentioned within the short story, stating that everyone has their own mask, but his is just visible. Both characters are willingto physically display their sin, knowing that other Puritans attempt to hide their sins in order to appear perfect. Due to the main characters' presumably, terrible sins, they are ousted from society for fear of the veil and of the scarlet letter, as if they might be made unholy in their presence.

It is ironic that the Puritans are afraid of the ve7 because they are wearing one, themselves. Also, the Puritans shun Hester for her scarlet letter, but many of them have committed equal sins. Had a child been a result of their sin, they would be in the same position as Hester. The novel and short story cover the same themes of secret and public sin.

The works are classified into separate genres, gothicism and romanticism. However, The Scarlet Letter, as well as 'The Minister's Black Veil' display a parallel main idea, sin, through the use of symbolism, main events, and dialogue among the main characters and Puritans of the towns. The stories display a difference in genre, but similarities in theme and symbolism.

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Theme of Sin in The Scarlet Letter and The Minister’s Black Veil. (2022, Jun 16). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from
“Theme of Sin in The Scarlet Letter and The Minister’s Black Veil.” Edubirdie, 16 Jun. 2022,
Theme of Sin in The Scarlet Letter and The Minister’s Black Veil. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Dec. 2023].
Theme of Sin in The Scarlet Letter and The Minister’s Black Veil [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 16 [cited 2023 Dec 4]. Available from:
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