The Minister’s Black Veil

Reverend Hooper Character Analysis

The protagonist of “The Minister’s Black Veil,” Hooper is a young, mild-mannered preacher in the town of Milford. However, one day, without giving an explicit reason, he begins wearing a black veil that covers his face from his forehead down to just above his mouth. While Hawthorne never reveals exactly why Hooper decides to wear the veil, Hooper suggests that he does so to teach the townspeople to consider their own sins, to consider the way that they hide or are separated from each other and from God. Despite his somber appearance, Hooper is a kind, loving man and hates the isolation he endures when the town assumes that he must wear the veil as atonement for having committed a serious sin. Whether or not Hooper is atoning for a specific crime, his character is difficult to understand: while he exhibits great humility by cutting himself off from his society in order to deliver his message, he could be considered a proud, arrogant character, too, since the wearing of the veil is such an overt or even ostentatious way to communicate his message (a message that isn’t even understood by the town until he reveals it on his deathbed).

Reverend Hooper Quotes in The Minister’s Black Veil

The The Minister’s Black Veil quotes below are all either spoken by Reverend Hooper or refer to Reverend Hooper. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Minister’s Black Veil published in 2011.
The Minister's Black Veil Quotes

There was but one thing remarkable about his appearance. Swathed about his forehead, and hanging down over his face so low as to be shaken by his breath, Mr. Hooper had on a black veil. On a nearer view it seemed to consist of two folds of crape, which entirely concealed his features, except the mouth and chin, but probably did not intercept his sight, further than to give a darkened aspect to all living and inanimate things.

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

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Did he seek to hide [his face] from the dread Being whom he was addressing?

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

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Such was the effect of this simple piece of crape, that more than one woman of delicate nerves was forced to leave the meeting-house. Yet perhaps the pale-faced congregation was almost as fearful a sight to the minister, as his black veil to them.

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

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The sermon which he now delivered was marked by the same characteristics of style and manner as the general series of his pulpit oratory. But there was something, either in the sentiment of the discourse itself, or in the imagination of the auditors, which made it greatly the most powerful effort that had ever heard from their pastor’s lips. It was tinged, rather more darkly than usual, with the gentle gloom of Mr. Hooper’s temperament.

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper
Page Number: 12-13
Explanation and Analysis:

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The people hurried out with indecorous confusion, eager to communicate their pent-up amazement, and conscious of lighter spirits the moment they lost sight of the black veil. Some gathered in little circles, huddled closely together, with their mouths all whispering in the center; some went homeward alone, rapt in silent meditation; some talked loudly, and profaned the Sabbath day with ostentatious laughter.

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Truly do I,” replied the lady; “and I would not be alone with [Hooper] for the world. I wonder he is not afraid to be alone with himself!”
Men are sometimes so,” said her husband [the physician].

Related Characters: The physician (speaker), Reverend Hooper
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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The clergyman stepped into the room where the corpse was laid, and bent over the coffin, to take a last farewell of his deceased parishioner. As he stooped, the veil hung straight down from his forehead, so that, if her eyelids had not been closed forever, the dead maiden might have seen his face. Could Mr. Hooper be fearful of her glance, that he so hastily caught back the black veil?

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper, The young woman
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

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“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:

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"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:

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"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:

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Among all its bad influences, the black veil had the one desirable effect of making its wearer a very efficient clergyman. By the aid of his mysterious emblem—for there was no other apparent cause—he became a man of awful power over souls that were in agony for sin. His converts always regarded him with a dread peculiar to themselves, affirming, though but figuratively, that before he brought them to celestial light they had been with him behind the black veil.

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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In this manner Mr. Hooper spent a long life, irreproachable in outward act, yet shrouded in dismal suspicions; kind and loving, though unloved and dimly feared; a man apart from men, shunned in their health and joy, but ever summoned to their aid in mortal anguish.

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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"Why do you tremble at me alone?" cried he, turning his veiled face round the circle of pale spectators. "Tremble also at each other. Have men avoided me and women shown no pity and children screamed and fled only for my black veil? What but the mystery which it obscurely typifies has made this piece of crape so awful? When the friend shows his inmost heart to his friend, the lover to his best-beloved; when man does not vainly shrink from the eye of his Creator, loathsomely treasuring up the secret of his sin,—then deem me a monster for the symbol beneath which I have lived and die. I look around me, and, lo! on every visage a black veil!"

Related Characters: Reverend Hooper (speaker), Reverend Clark
Related Symbols: The Black Veil
Page Number: 22-23
Explanation and Analysis:

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Reverend Hooper Character Timeline in The Minister’s Black Veil

The timeline below shows where the character Reverend Hooper 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
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
...that Mr. Joseph Moody, who lived in Maine, also wore a veil, though unlike Reverend Hooper, the protagonist of Hawthorne’s story, he did as atonement for accidentally killing one of his... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
...married couples. As the townspeople take their seats, the town sexton notices the Reverend Mr. Hooper walking to church, and cries out, surprised, that he has something on his face. (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
The townspeople turn and look at Hooper as he approaches the church. Many cannot recognize him, but the sexton insists that it... (full context)
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Teaching by Example Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Hooper is a young, unmarried preacher, though he dresses so neatly that it looks as if... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
The townspeople mutter their disapproval of Hooper’s black veil. The sexton says he doesn’t feel as if Hooper’s face is really behind... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Teaching by Example Theme Icon
Hooper is a good preacher, though ordinarily his sermons are mild, not passionate. Today, his sermon,... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
At the end of the sermon, Hooper walks among his congregation. Unusually, no one walks alongside him, and Squire Saunders, who often... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Hooper gives the afternoon service, which includes a funeral service for a young woman. Hooper’s black... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Teaching by Example Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
At the funeral, Hooper delivers a moving sermon in which he expresses his certainty that the young woman is... (full context)
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
...is to be married. The town waits eagerly for the ceremony, and hopes also that Hooper, who is known to enjoy weddings, will stop being gloomy. But when Hooper arrives to... (full context)
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
...by the narrator, in which the groom was about to die. The bride, intimidated by Hooper, looks as pale as the corpse that was buried earlier in the day. As Hooper... (full context)
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
The next day, everyone in Milford talks about Hooper’s veil: children, friends, gossips, etc. No one dares to ask Hooper why he is wearing... (full context)
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... (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 first time. Hooper begs her... (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 is mad... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Teaching by Example Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Although it isolates Hooper from Milford, the veil makes him an excellent reverend. Because the townspeople are afraid of... (full context)
Isolation Theme Icon
Hooper grows old and close to death; the physician says that he can do nothing to... (full context)
Puritanism and Piety Theme Icon
Appearance, Perception, and Interpretation Theme Icon
Sin and Guilt Theme Icon
Teaching by Example Theme Icon
Isolation Theme Icon
Reverend Clark approaches Hooper on his deathbed and requests that he allow his veil to be lifted so that... (full context)