On Sunday morning, the people in a small, 17th century New England Puritan community are shocked when their minister Mr. Hooper comes to church wearing a black veil over his face. It is made of black crape, and it obscures everything except his mouth and chin.
The congregation can’t put their finger on why, but Mr. Hooper’s black veil brings out a very deep-seated horror within each person. Everyone feels like he can see their deepest secrets and sins as he gives his sermon on secret sin. He wears it to a funeral where it should have been appropriate, but it makes the funeral even more frightening for attendees. He also wears it to preside over a wedding, and the bride and groom see it as an evil omen.
Everyone in town talks about Mr. Hooper’s veil, but no one gains the courage to ask him directly about it, except his fiance Elizabeth. She gently tries to persuade him to remove the veil, but he tells her that it is a symbol that he is bound to wear for the rest of his life. When he refuses to remove the veil, Elizabeth leaves him. Mr. Hooper wears it for many years after, and he becomes a comfort to those who are dying and believe that he alone can understand their sins.
Mr. Hooper eventually becomes known as Father Hooper, and serves until he is on his deathbed from old age. Elizabeth comes to be at his side, along with Reverend Mr. Clark from Westbury. Mr. Clark tries to get Father Hooper to remove the veil before he dies, and Hooper suddenly grabs the veil and holds it tightly to his face. He shoots up in bed with the last of his energy and tells everyone that their faces hold their own black veils.
The people in the room look at each other in fright. Father Hooper falls back with a faint smile on his face.
Father Hooper is buried with the veil still on his face.