A Perfectionist in Nathanial Hawthorne's "The Birthmark"
602 WordsFeb 26, 20182 Pages
People are obsessed with making everything perfect. Nathanial Hawthorne seemed to think that the imperfections created by God should not be “fixed” by the will of man. In “The Birthmark”, he conveys this view through symbolism, imagery, and characterization.
Symbolism is scattered throughout the work. The most obvious is the shape that the birthmark is in: a hand. It is meant to represent the hand that God has in every formation of beauty, imperfections included. Because of this connection to God, it is supposed to be accepted and seen as beautiful. However, Aylmer cannot see the beauty underneath. There are also the speaking of the freckles and the ability of the solution to “be washed away as easily as the hands are cleansed” (221). Old folklore says that freckles are “Angel’s kisses” and something that is supposed to make a person unique and more beautiful. Aylmer, once again, only sees the imperfection, rather than the beauty. The “Elixir of Immortality” represents man’s thought they can control life spans and to, essentially, “play God” by choosing who lives and dies (221).
Hawthorne uses imagery to juxtapose the beauty of some imperfections to the coldness of the analytical “fixing” of the imperfections. One of the most memorable images from the story is when Georgiana is captured in a photo, but only the birthmark comes out clear, while the rest of her beauty is blurred. In anger and disgust, Aylmer throws the entire thing away. However, Hawthorne used this image to