External, Internal Conflict of “The Minister’s Black Veil”
Hugo McPherson in “Hawthorne’s Use of Mythology” comments on the “reason and passion” conflict which he sees in this writer: “Those who read him as a Christian moralist recognize instantly an opposition between Head and Heart, reason and passion which is related not only to Puritan theology but to the Neo-Classical view of man….” (69). Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Minister’s Black Veil” contains both an external and an internal conflict, which this essay will explore.
Literary critics mostly agree that Hawthorne’s stories manifest strong interior conflicts within the main character(s). Peter Conn in “Finding a Voice in an New Nation” comments on Hawthorne’s internal conflicts in his tales: “His most typical stories are darkly lyrical meditations on the devastating consequences that follow when love is withdrawn, whether because of egotism or prejudice or a failure of sexual nerve” (81).
R. W. B. Lewis in “The Return into Rime: Hawthorne” implies internal and external conflict in his statement: “Finally, it was Hawthorne who saw in American experience the re-creation of the story of Adam and who . . . exploited the active metaphor of the American as Adam – before and during and after the Fall” (72). Q. D. Leavis says regarding internal conflict: the journey each must take alone, in dread, at night, is the journey away from home and the community, from conscious, everyday social life, to the wilderness where the hidden self satisfies, or is forced to realize, its subconscious fears. . . .” (36). Clarice Swisher in “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography” states: Hawthorne himself was preoccupied with the problems of evil, the nat…
…uction. Selected Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Fawcett Premier, 1966.
Leavis, Q.D. “Hawthorne as Poet.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Lewis, R. W. B. “The Return into Time: Hawthorne.” In Hawthorne – A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by A.N. Kaul. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
McPherson, Hugo. “Hawthorne’s Use of Mythology.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Sullivan, Wilson. “Nathaniel Hawthorne.” In New England Men of Letters. New York: Macmillan Co., 1972.
Swisher, Clarice. “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.