In The Sandman, Hoffman uses perception as a metaphor that shows that not everything, in reality, is the same as we perceive it. For example, Nathaniel fell in love with Olympia because he believed that she is a human being and lost his mind when he realized that she was a doll (Hoffman 15). In The Minister’s Black Veil, people perceive Mr. Hooper as a significant person and promote him to Father mainly because he wears a veil (Hawthorne 11).
The veil triggers interest in people because they want to know why Mr. Hopper always wears it (Hawthorne 8). People were also afraid of the minister because they thought the black veil hides his dangerous past (Hawthorne 2).
If the veil were white, people would not be afraid of Mr. Hopper from the very beginning. Probably, they will believe that he is a saint. The white veil will make them think that he is a kind and secretive person who does good deeds.
The minister wears a veil because he committed some sin and wants anyone to know about it. The masks prevent the carrier of the virus from spreading to healthy people. Therefore, I suppose that a mask is also a way to hide a “sin” from others.
It seems that Nathaniel was captivated only by Olympia’s beauty. Hoffman writes that Clara was not that pretty despite being Nathaniel’s childhood love (7). Thus, Nathaniel’s feelings for stupid but beautiful Olympia were driven only by the fact that he liked her appearance more than Clara’s.
Nathaniel’s obsession with Olympia represents a misogynistic view of women in general because he wanted to possess her even though she had no feelings for him. Hoffman claims that Olympia was indifferent to Nathaniel, and when he talked about his love, she only responded: “Ah-ah” (10, 13). From this, one could infer that Nathaniel believed in the inferiority of women.
Nathaniel seems to be a trustworthy narrator. Undoubtedly, the fact that he initially loved Clara and then decided that Olympia is the love of his life raises concerns about his truthfulness (Hoffman 1, 13). However, Nathaniel honestly shared his fears with Clara and Lothar before he met Olympia (Hoffman 4). The fact that he went mad might justify that he was charmed by Olympia to such an extent that he could not live anymore without her (Hoffman 17).
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Minister’s Black Veil. Web.
Hoffman, Ernst Theodor Amadeus. The Sandman. Translated by John Oxenford, Edward Rios, 2009.