Essay on the Angel of a Woman in The Birthmark

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Angel of a Woman in “The Birthmark”

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “The Birthmark,” contains a wonderful example of the perfect wife. This essay will develop that theme.

In the opening paragraph of “The Birthmark” the narrator introduces Aylmer as a scientist who “had made experience of a spiritual affinity more attractive than any chemical one.” Hawthorne’s description of the scientist’s love for Georgiana is apt, for love is just that – spiritual. And the theme of this tale is a spiritual one. Through the course of the story Aylmer declines spiritually, while Georgiana advances spiritually.

Even after Aylmer has “persuaded a beautiful woman to become his wife,” he is not capable of loving her
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Georgiana perceives a lack of love in his overdone negative reaction to the birthmark: ``Then why did you take me from my mother's side? You cannot love what shocks you!''

The narrator includes observations of other women regarding the mark: “Some fastidious persons -- but they were exclusively of her own sex -- affirmed that the bloody hand, as they chose to call it, quite destroyed the effect of Georgiana's beauty, and rendered her countenance even hideous.” The narrator opposes such an absurd accusation, likening it to the ridiculousness of asserting that blue veins in quality marble degrade the marble: “But it would be as reasonable to say that one of those small blue stains which sometimes occur in the purest statuary marble would convert the Eve of Powers to a monster.”

In a balanced consideration of Georgiana and the mark, the narrator also includes the opinion of the “masculine observers”; they, “if the birthmark did not heighten their admiration, contented themselves with wishing it away, that the world might possess one living specimen of ideal loveliness without the semblance of a flaw.” And similarly does Aylmer think. He, not surprisingly perhaps for a perfectionist-genius-scientist, “found this one defect grow more and more intolerable with every moment of their united lives.” To him it seems “the fatal flaw of humanity,” the
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