The Minister’s Black Veil

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Elizabeth is Hooper’s fiancée at the beginning of the story. After he begins wearing his veil, she is the only person in Milford who isn’t immediately afraid of him. When Hooper refuses to show his face and explain himself, she begins to fear him, and shortly thereafter she breaks off the engagement. Despite abandoning Hooper, Elizabeth continues to love him even as he grows old, and on his deathbed, she takes care of him and helps to ensure that his veil isn’t removed.

Elizabeth Quotes in The Minister’s Black Veil

The The Minister’s Black Veil quotes below are all either spoken by Elizabeth or refer to Elizabeth . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of The Minister’s Black Veil published in 2011.
The Minister's Black Veil Quotes

“There is an hour to come,” said he, “when all of us shall cast aside our veils. Take it not amiss, beloved friend, if I wear this piece of crape till then.”

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper (speaker), Elizabeth
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Hooper's young fiancee, Elizabeth, begs him to remove his veil so that they can be happily married, without the gossip of the townspeople distracting them from happiness. Hooper explains that he'll keep his veil on, because life is short: compared with an eternity in Heaven, a couple decades with a veil is nothing.

The scene illustrates the strange combination of arrogance and humility in Hooper's personality. Elizabeth wants Hooper to remove his veil so that they can have a happy life together. Hooper refuses to give in to Elizabeth's desires because he's more focused on his afterlife in Heaven than he is than his life on Earth. To a Puritan, Hooper's refusal might seem like a paragon of Christian virtue (the Puritans were told that they should focus on Heaven, not Earth). And yet Hooper's continued fidelity to his veil draws more attention to him in the community. So while it's possible to read Hooper's behavior as humble and pious, it's also possible to interpret it as hubris disguised as modesty: Hooper is raising himself above other men with this outward show of humility.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Minister’s Black Veil quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

"But what if the world will not believe that it is the type of an innocent sorrow?" urged Elizabeth. "Beloved and respected as you are, there may be whispers that you hide your face under the consciousness of secret sin. For the sake of your holy office do away this scandal."

Related Characters: Elizabeth (speaker), Reverend Hooper
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Elizabeth, Hooper's fiancee, tries one last time to convince her lover to remove his veil. Here, she gives one simple reason why Hooper should show his face again: otherwise the townspeople will assume that Hooper is a sinner. In essence, Elizabeth is urging Hooper to give into the small-mindedness of the community; she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life being judged by her peers for marrying a supposed "sinner."

The fact that Elizabeth would cite the townspeople's gossip as a reason for Hooper to remove his veil suggests that she's not much more open-minded than the townspeople themselves. Even if Elizabeth loves Hooper sincerely, she's not confident enough in her love and her faith to marry him: she cares more about the opinions of her neighbors.

"Have patience with me, Elizabeth!" cried he, passionately. "Do not desert me though this veil must be between us here on earth. Be mine, and hereafter there shall be no veil over my face, no darkness between our souls. It is but a mortal veil; it is not for eternity. Oh, you know not how lonely I am, and how frightened to be alone behind my black veil!

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper (speaker), Elizabeth
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Mr. Hooper begs Elizabeth to marry him, even after he insists that he has no intention of taking off his black veil. In clear, plain terms, Hooper is laying out Elizabeth's choice for her. She can either abandon him, giving into the pressure of the Puritan community in which they both live (and perhaps to her own sense of fear and uneasiness regarding her fiance's appearance). Or she can spend the rest of her mortal life married to Hooper—after which they'll surely be rewarded for their loyalty and piety with a place in Heaven.

The passage is also provides some of the most convincing evidence that Hooper is sincerely trying to teach a moral lesson by wearing his veil, rather than arrogantly raising himself above his fellow men. In the past, Hooper has behaved calmly and peacefully around his peers. Here, however, Hooper admits the truth: he's afraid of the difficult path that lies ahead of him, and wants a wife to support him while he wears the veil. Of course, the passage could also suggest, more generally, that Hooper is afraid of his own sinful nature (afraid of being alone beneath his veil), and wants to marry Elizabeth in order to cement his place as a righteous, pious man. (This interpretation could support Poe's hypothesis that Hooper was romantically involved with the young woman who died—Hooper sinned with the woman, and now wants to marry Elizabeth to "move on.")

Get the entire The Minister’s Black Veil LitChart as a printable PDF.
The minister s black veil.pdf.medium

Elizabeth Character Timeline in The Minister’s Black Veil

The timeline below shows where the character Elizabeth appears in The Minister’s Black Veil. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Minister's Black Veil
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Teaching by Example Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Hooper’s fiancée, Elizabeth, is the only person in Milford who isn’t afraid of Hooper’s veil. She goes to... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
As Elizabeth attempts to reason with Hooper, she begins to feel afraid of his veil for the... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
After Elizabeth leaves Hooper, no one tries to remove or understand his veil. Some say that Hooper... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
...family, many clergymen come to visit him on his deathbed, including the young Reverend Clark. Elizabeth, who has continued to love Hooper even after leaving him, now takes care of him.... (full context)