The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Grade Level
High School
Length of Time
1 hour

This lesson plan covers the short story, "The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I have included a summary of the short story and questions for readers to answer before they read the short story.


Students will learn:
To predict what happens in a short story
Learn how authors create suspense
Write a short story that has a character similar to the main character in "The Minister's Black Veil."

Materials Needed

You will need the following information for this lesson plan. You can also have available the short story, "The Minister's Black Veil" by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The Minister's Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne is an excellent short story. I recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys classical fiction, Nathaniel Hawthorne's works, or suspense. This short story contains an element of suspense because of the minister and his actions and because of his black veil.

Suspense continues to build throughout the story because of the comments and actions of the congregation.

When his congregation first saw Mr. Hooper, their new minister, they were suspicious. They wondered why he was wearing a black veil over his face. As a result, they began making comments to each other about how they felt. Some people didn't like the veil. Other's thought he had gone mad or that he had changed himself into something evil. Some people felt like he was almost like a ghost because he wore the black veil.

After the service, some people gathered in small groups to discuss their feelings. Others walked home alone. They did not know what to think about their new minister. When he walked near them, all they did was stare.

People were also afraid to be alone with him. One woman thought he might even be afraid to be alone with himself because he always had on the black veil. If that's the case, maybe he had done something so bad that he couldn't reveal himself to others. People can usually tell by other people's expressions on their face or eyes if they are feeling guilty about something.

Usually, when someone does not want to have eye contact with someone else, he/she must be feeling guilty about something. Maybe the minister is hiding his face because of feeling guilty.

There were so many questions among the congregation. People became afraid of their own pastor because of his actions.

Mr. Hooper was friendly and greeted his congregation with a nod, but he didn't say much. When he walked by the children, he patted them on their heads.

Mr. Hooper was normally a quiet man and preached sermons that led his people toward heaven instead of preaching condemnation. However, during his sermons, he never removed his black veil. His congregation felt like he was pointing his finger at them and something about their personal lives. Since they couldn't see his face, they couldn't see the expressions he made or have some idea of what he was feeling and thinking. As a result, this made him look suspicious.

Questions to answer before you read the story:

1. Why do you think he was hiding his face?

2. Did something happen to disfigure his face?

3. Was he ashamed of the way he looked?

4. Did he commit some crime?

5. Did he not want to reveal his identity?

6. Does something happen to reveal his face?


First, you will read the summary and questions I presented in the previous section.

Then, you will have the students read the story.

After that, you can have them write a short story of their own using a character that is in a similar situation to the character in the story they just read.


100 to 90 = A

89 to 80 = B

79 to 70 = C

69 to 60 = D

Below 60 = F

You can grade the students on their participation in class and the short story they write on their own using a character similar to the main character in the story they just read.

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