Posted: March 6th, 2023

Based on the theme of hypocrisy illustrate the differences between the stories of Hawthorne and Updike

The stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne and John Updike differ in their approaches to the theme of hypocrisy, particularly with regard to how these authors depict the consequences of hypocrisies. In Hawthorne’s short story, “The Minister’s Black Veil,” his protagonist Reverend Hooper is a minister who wears an inexplicable black veil over his face which divides him from society. Despite their curiosity and questions regarding this veiling, no one discovers its true origin or purpose; instead it serves as a symbol for the hypocrisy that exists within Puritan society. By choosing to conceal himself from everyone, he exemplifies what it means to be a hypocrite and conveys that hypocritical behavior will ultimately lead to being excluded from others (Mowry & Kondritzer, 2019). The irony is further highlighted when Hooper reveals on his deathbed that the veil was meant to signify hidden sins in all people that should not be judged by anyone other than God alone.

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Based on the theme of hypocrisy illustrate the differences between the stories of Hawthorne and Updike

On the other hand, Updike’s narrative “A & P” tells more about specific individual hypocrites rather than examining broader societal issues concerning hypocrisy. The main character Sammy battles with inner conflicts throughout the story as he contemplates whether or not he should stand up for three scantily clad girls who were asked to leave an A&P store after refusing to cover up their swimsuits (Updike, 1961). He ultimately quits his job in order to support them out of principle only later realizing how much money he has given up because of this decision. This moment serves as an epiphany for Sammy whereby he discovers that even though he has acted on behalf of someone else, it ultimately leads him into financial trouble – thus conveying Updikes message about how self-sacrifice can actually come at a cost depending on certain circumstances.

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In conclusion then while both authors explore ideas surrounding hypocrisy they differ in terms of approach: whereas Hawthornes story examines general social decrees surrounding this concept Updikes tale looks at individual experiences which are affected by hypocritical decisions made by oneself or those around them (Mowry & Kondritzer, 2019). Furthermore whereas Hawthornes protagonist appears unaffected by his own actions due too lack of knowledge promoted by secrecy Updikes character realizes too late just how costly moral convictions may become when put into practice. Thus both works offer unique perspectives on what hypocrisy really entails but do so through different lenses emphasizing either community prejudice or personal losses respectively.

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