Jeremy Keeshin In his short stories, Nathaniel Hawthorne reveals to the reader the nature of human interaction by sometimes

showing the lack thereof. He sets his pieces in times of gloominess and misunderstanding, and the central characters try to weave their way out by seeking salvation through what in their minds seem to be righteous actions. In two of his stories specifically, this is especially evident. In “The Minister’s Black Veil” and “The Man of Adamant,” the main characters, Reverend Hooper and Richard Digby, respectively, have concrete visions of what virtue ought to be, and do not allow any room for misinterpretation. Both Richard Digby and Reverend Hooper cannot connect to society because of their arrogance. However, Digby experiences a greater degree of separation because he thinks he has the noblest purpose that involves only himself, while the Minister chooses to remain within the bounds of society because he wants to relay his message to them. Although both Richard Digby and Reverend Hooper have the same goal to remain on the path of morality and purity, Digby is more arrogant because he chooses to carry out his actions in a cave completely cut off from society, while Hooper still communicates with the people. Digby places himself in a cave to be pure because, “Providence had entrusted him, alone of mortals, with the treasure of a true faith,” and he was “determined to seclude himself to the sole and constant enjoyment of his happy fortune (Hawthorne 421). He is so radical in his beliefs that he will not even permit himself to converse with the people. His arrogance is so extreme that only he can achieve salvation, and this narrow-mindedness leads to his downfall. Reverend Hooper on the other hand is just as stringent, as no person can see him without or take off his black veil, but he will at least talk to the people and give them

Jeremy Keeshin some amount of insight into his farfetched actions. Hooper says to his wife Elizabeth: “If I hide my face for sorrow, there is cause enough… and if I cover it for secret sin, what mortal might not do the same?” (Hawthorne 8). He tries to tell her that he has reasons even if they are not completely understandable, that cause him to wear this black veil. Reverend Hooper wears his black veil to very social occasions, so his plight is not nearly as antisocial as Digby’s. Hooper appears at a wedding and a funeral, inherently social gatherings, and remains there despite his feelings of inferiority directed at the people. He is not connected emotionally with his townspeople, but he does not situate himself in the most remote location. Digby’s arrogance emanates when he says he is too pure to be in contact with people when he goes into the cave. When he finally comes in contact with the human or angelic manifestation of Mary Goffe, he cannot even bear her presence. His actions inherently make him a cruel and arrogant isolationist. He is so arrogant that he refuses the only cure that is offered to him by Mary Goffe. When he is telling her to leave he says, “Off! I am sanctified, and thou art sinful. Away!” (Hawthorne 424). This reveals the astonishing irony of his character. In his quest to achieve purity he becomes so bigoted that he is the sinner who refuses aid from the righteous woman offering him help. Hooper’s arrogance arises in the fact that he will not take off the veil for anyone, including his dear wife. He feels that his message is more important than the people, and sacrifices all of his relations for the benefit of the idea he is trying to pursue. Hawthorne writes, “All through life that piece of crape had hung between him and the world: it had separated him from cheerful brotherhood and woman’s love, and kept him in that saddest of all prisons, his own heart; and still it lay upon his face, as if to deepen the gloom of his

Jeremy Keeshin darksome chamber, and shade him from the sunshine of eternity (“Veil” 10-11). This shows how his own isolation and arrogance cause him to lose all connection with his wife and fellow congregants. The fundamental reasons behind the differences in Hooper and Digby’s arrogance are that Hooper’s stems from his superior attitude and Digby’s from his over-inflated sense of ego and independence. The constant in Hooper’s character is that whenever is at a crucial point with the town, he has a smile behind his veil: “There was the black veil swathed around Mr. Hooper’s forehead, and concealing every feature above his placid mouth, on which, at times, they could perceive the glimmering of a melancholy smile” (Hawthorne 6). Hooper’s smile proves that he thinks who he is and what he is doing is better than everyone else, and that is the fatal flaw in his character. Digby’s stony heart condition is a result of him not having feelings, because all that he feels for is himself. He is so narcissistic that he decides that the Bible and all its powers are his when he says to Mary Goffe, “Temp me no more, accursed woman, lest I smite thee down also! What hast thou to do with my Bible?—what with my prayers?—what with my heaven? (Hawthorne 426). He does not depend on any person, and this selfishness and exaggerated independence make him an excessively arrogant character. Digby and Hooper are both characters who choose to isolate themselves because they cannot connect to their peers because they place themselves a level above everyone else. Both are arrogant, but Digby shows this attribute to a greater extent because his seclusion is more complete and solitary and unrelenting. Both try to have positive outcomes follow their actions but their fruitless efforts are a demonstration that arrogance and complete seclusion will result in an unfulfilling life.