Saturday, November 17, 2007

Moss-grown Burial Stone

Journal No. 5
English 48A
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I chose: Nathaniel Hawthorne

I. "The grass of many years has sprung up and withered on that grave, the burial-stone is moss-grown, and good Mr. Hooper's face is dust; but awful is still the thought, that it mouldered beneath the black veil!"

II. Even after his death, the parishioners and people surrounding Mr. Hooper did not remove
the veil to reveal what is beneath.
III. As Mr. Hooper dies, the people present at his death-bed wish to have him remove his black veil. He becomes angry and insists that the veil stay. Nathaniel Hawthorne is creating a dramatic image of the rotting body wasting away while the strong fabric of the veil continues on for eternity. This is perpetuating the symbol of fear that everyone else wanted to remove. If the veil is around for many generations to come, so are the sins and fears which prompted it's placement in the first place. If the veil lives on, don't the reasons for it's existence live on, too? If Mr. Hooper had intended to place the veil for symbolic reasons and to remind society of their sins, then the sins would only last as long as the veil did. People are inclined to still wonder why it existed in the first place if it continues to be so important even after Mr. Hooper's passing. The citizens would therefore continue to judge Mr. Hooper many years after his death simply because he wore a veil. I imagine that the veil acted more as a net or a sponge than an actual veil. Perhaps he was trying to keep something out (hatred and hypocrisy) rather than keep something in (hiding his own sins and fears). He has turned the tables on the people who judged him the most by keeping the veil in place, even long after his own body has been consumed by and returned to the earth.


drscottie said...

20/20 Hawthorne sure did have a pointed head, didn't he?