Hawthorne's literary posture, not only in "The Minister's Black Veil" but also in The House of the Seven Gables and The Scarlet Letter, may be said to be one of social and moral critique of the Puritan city-state. Within that critique, in "The Minister's Black Veil," is contained a strong rendering of the power of personal morality and humility to exercise moral authority over the behavior and attitudes of others. As Van Doren puts it,
Yet there was much about it (Puritan society] that he (Hawthorne) disliked. It was dismal, it was confined; he would not have had it back. The Scarlet Letter in no sense recommends it as a system of thought or a way of life. Hawthorne did not need to believe in Puritanism in order to write a great novel about it. He had only to understand it, which for a man of his time was harder . . . If one were serious, one never forgot the eternal importance of every soul, and never doubted that the consequences of deeds, even of impulses, lasts forever. The Puritans had known this all too well, and their resulting behavior was at times abominable (137-8).
In "The Minister's Black Veil," such behavior takes the form of a fearful yet definitive mean-spiritedness and deliberate isolation that aggravates Mr. Hooper's deliberate isolation of himself from them. Once the village gets more or less used to seeing the veil, it holds itself as one away from