Written by Nathaniel Hawthorne during the American Renaissance, the short story “The Birth-Mark” details the events of a brilliant scientist and natural philosopher named Aylmer who obsesses about his wife Georgiana’s birthmark in the shape of a tiny hand on her left cheek. The symbol of the birthmark causes the plot to advance in the story, as Aylmer is compelled by this red mark to act upon his emotions. Aylmer views his wife’s birthmark as an imperfection in her virtually flawless beauty and as a result, attempts to it via a potion that he strongly believes cannot fail. His interpretation of the birthmark creates conflict in the story, which is shaped by the symbolic meaning that he attributes it to. Aylmer’s failure to accept his wife’s appearance for who she is leads to misunderstandings, pain, and ultimately, death.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel “The Birthmark” Literature and the Writing Process, edited by Elizabeth McMahan, believed that Aylmer’s belief is that to have life there must be imperfection and losing imperfection was losing life. She explains as she shows us how “The Birthmark” which is a story filled with symbolisms and irony. Hawthorne displayed this belief in his short story "The Birthmark”, which is about a scientist named Aylmer who becomes disgusted by his wife, Georgiana’s tiny birthmark on her left cheek and kills her in the process of trying to remove it. He sees it as a flaw in his beautiful wife. Georgiana knows that her birthmark disgusts him. She began to feel disgusted by this birthmark when she realizes her husband’s disgust with it; she had never felt hate for herself until she realizes his feelings toward her birthmark. He asks if she has ever considered having it removed. This is not something she never looked at this way before, considering that other people in her life, especially men, had always seen it as a “charm”. Aylmer was not trying to just get rid of Georgiana's birthmark, rather, he was trying to change nature, He believed he had control over it. That's where things took a toll for and up for the worst. Aylmer had a hard time accepting imperfections in life.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was the author of multiple short stories and poems, all of them in the Dark Romantic genre. Hawthorne gained his inspiration at home with his mother, sisters, and his wife, Sophia Peabody who was a poet as well. In his writing, one of his strongest traits was his use of allegory. Hawthorne often uses allegory in his short stories to add a different perspective onto his many works. In his short story, “The Birthmark,” Hawthorne utilizes foreshadowing and symbolism to portray the allegorical lesson that striving for perfection results in troubling outcomes.
Many people are born with a birthmark. These birthmarks usually are not considered to subtract from the beauty someone has. The main character in The Birthmark, feels differently. The short story The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, features many different archetypes. Most specifically, the story focuses on archetypal theme of life and death, which is exemplified by the Hawthorne’s implications as to how Georgiana acquired her birthmark. However, the story also uses the archetypal theme of love conquers all and the color red to further focus on human imperfections and why it is best to not to try perfecting them.
Georgiana had always lived with the birthmark, and was quite fond of its charm. Many people in the town believe it was a fairy’s handprint left to sway all hearts; to them the mark only magnified her appeal. The mark’s charm had rarely been questioned by anyone other than the jealous women of the town, and its peculiar nature had once intrigued Aylmer and amplified his attraction to Georgiana. He begged for her hand in marriage, but soon after they were wed, he queried whether Georgiana had ever considered having the birthmark removed. She was hurt by the implication that the mark depreciated her and grew upset with her husband. As time passed, Aylmer continued to stare at the mark, unable to keep his eyes from wandering to it. This continued until Georgiana was no longer able to ignore the way his eyes were always fixated on this sole imperfection, the crimson hand that kept him up at night and plagued his dreams. She asked Aylmer to remove the mark, or take her life because she no longer wanted to live if she had to live with the mark. She preferred death to the harsh scrutiny from her husband.
“As the last crimson tint of the birthmark that sole token of human imperfection faded from her cheek, the parting breath of the now perfect woman passed into the atmosphere, and her soul, lingering a moment near her husband, took its heavenward flight” (Hawthorne 13). In 1843, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote “The Birthmark,” a tragic and unexpected short story. In the beginning of “The Birthmark,” Alymer, a man of science, marries a young beautiful woman named Georgiana. One day Alymer noticed a mark on Georgiana’s cheek, and over time his obsession with the thought of removing it scientifically caused the death of his wife. Therefore, in the short story “The Birthmark,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Alymer pushes the scientific boundaries too far and his experiment is unjustified.
In “The Birth-Mark,” Aylmer, a natural philosopher, became obsessed with a hand shaped birthmark on his wife’s face. Being completely consumed by the notion of imperfection that graced the face of his wife, Georgiana, he attempted to remove the mark which resulted in her death. Aylmer views Georgiana’s birthmark as something more than a
Although love is at often times a great thing, it can blind people and misguide them. The relationship between Aylmer and Georgiana is a scenario of misguided love gone wrong. In “The Birthmark”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Aylmer expresses his love of science much more than he expresses his love for his wife, Georgiana. This happens despite the extreme love his wife shows him, and her obedience and trust towards him. He ends up ruining her life when turning her into a scientific experiment. His love for science consumes his brain and he is unable to think about the human part of his life and thus, ends up losing it.
In “The Birthmark” we first learn about the main character named Aylmer. He is fascinated with science. “He has devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any second passion” (Hawthorne 952) He eventually finds love with his wife Georgianna, but there is something about her he just will not seem to take much longer. Georgianna has a red birthmark on her cheek which is the shape of a small hand. While she thinks it is beautiful, the most important person in her life doesn’t feel the same way. In fact, Aylmer is truly disgusted and in shock by her mark, claiming it is a “visible mark of earthly imperfection” (Hawthorne 953). Finally telling his wife how he feels, Georgianna is in disbelief. She is upset, hurt, and confused, even questioning their marriage as she tells him “You cannot love what shocks you!” (Hawthorne 953). The last thing she would have thought is that the person she planned to spend the rest of her life with doesn’t see her beauty mark the way she does.
When reading a story, people do not often think about how much it might relate to another story they have read in the past. In “The Birthmark” Georgiana simply wants her unique birthmark removed from her face. Similarly, in “Barbie Doll” the unnamed young lady wants her nose and legs removed. In both of these stories the reader can see that these women are chasing society’s idea of perfection. The short story “The Birthmark” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne and the poem “Barbie Doll” written by Marge Piercy have almost the exact same theme because both of these short works of fiction are about a woman that is influenced by her peers to become
In Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark”, Aylmer feels that his wife Georgiana is a miracle and that she is perfect. Her only flaw was the birthmark in the shape of a hand placed on her cheek. Instead of focusing on all her Georgiana’s perfections, Aylmer only focused on one of her flaws, the birthmark. Aylmer constructs a statement about her birthmark saying that, “It was the fatal flaw of humanity which Nature, in one shape or another, stamps ineffaceably on her productions, either to imply that they are temporary and finite, or that their perfection must be wrought by toil and pain.”(Meyer 345)
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "The Birthmark," there are many views on the need for science and its advances. Hawthorne's protagonist, Aylmer, illustrates his own personal assessment of science. The story is based on the idea that science can solve all of humanities ills and problems. Hawthorne believes that science is overrunning life. Aylmer is consumed by his passion of overtake Mother Nature. The story shows how Aylmer's passion leads to not only his downfall but that of his wife Georgiana as well. The belief that science can solve and do anything is one of ignorance because it totally disregards the human element of spirituality.
In the short allegory “The Birthmark”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a newly-wed couple becomes consumed by the existence of a small birthmark on the wife’s face. When the wife, Georgiana, allows her husband Aylmer, a scientist, to remove the birthmark, both realize that Georgiana will inevitably sacrifice her life for the sake of its removal. As the story progresses, so does the confliction of the newlyweds as they realize exactly what the birthmark symbolized to and for each other. Hawthorne’s hallmark use of symbolism also provides a ‘perfect’ glimpse into the mindset of two themes of psychological conflictions: perfectionism and codependency. Hawthorne seems to share this story as a possible moral of the hidden pathos we place upon the ones we love, and the invisible marks or standards we place upon ourselves for the ones we love.
Too often in this world does man attempt to perfect nature. Tampering with this sort of element most commonly leads to a disaster to come extent. Because man is never satisfied, he is constantly vying for perfection, regardless of the outcome. Such is the case in Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, 'The Birthmark.' Aylmer's persistent attempt to perfect nature is the cause of Georgiana's demise and the affirmation that when man tampers with such a powerful component terrible things may occur.
Although “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne was written in the mid-1800s, its themes and ideas are still a part of society today. The 19th century was a time of change, just as this, the millennium, is a time of great change. Hawthorne’s ideas about science, beauty, and life still play a major part in our lives, despite many improvements. Even today, people try to play “God” and change things that nature has put in place. It’s human curiosity; how much can be changed, how many things can be perfected? The themes in this short story-- religion, gender, and science--were relevant in Hawthorne’s day, and still are many years later. The theme of religion is hidden in the desire to erase