“...but the deeper went the knife, the deeper sank the hand, until at length its tiny grasp appeared to have caught hold of Georgiana's heart; whence, however, her husband was inexorably resolved to cut or wrench it away” (Hawthorne 335). This excerpt from Aylmer’s dream perfectly demonstrates his anger towards his wife’s little birthmark. A birthmark does not appear to be capable of creating such inner turmoil in someone purely based upon definition, for it is simply a slight imperfection or blotch that has resided on the skin since birth. It can be large, small, clearly visible, or non-existent to the common eye. Some may even consider these marks to be a gift, a sign of beauty or individuality, whereas others, along with Aylmer, may believe it to be a flaw: a curse. Within Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”, Georgiana’s particular birthmark held a small rosy impression in the shape of a tiny hand on her left cheek, which glowed on her pale skin (334). Her husband Aylmer hated nature’s signature on his wife’s otherwise perfect appearance, and he eventually lead Georgiana to despise it even more than himself. Georgiana is a dynamic character in the story that negatively developed through her …show more content…
His obsession took Georgiana’s life, and the sad thing is, in Aylmer’s eyes, perfection may have been worth it for him. Georgiana was dragged down by Aylmer, and she lost confidence and her will to live, ultimately depleting her as a character. Georgiana is a dynamic character because she changes, but this development is negative through her opinions of herself, interactions with her husband, and the lack of support from others. The birthmark showed man’s fight for domination over nature, and even though Aylmer reached perfection, he was left still unsatisfied and saddened, but it was not necessarily because of Georgiana’s death. She had died; therefore, nature had defeated him once
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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.
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.
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.
Once Georgiana also begins to view her birthmark as an imperfection, just like Aylmer does, she begins to hate it and demands it be removed. “’Remove it, remove it, whatever be the cost, or we shall both go mad!’” (Hawthorne 21). Georgiana is sacrificing everything she can in order for this birthmark to be removed, even death. Aylmer warns her of the dangers of performing such a surgery but she refuses to think it over and believes she is “most fit to die” (Hawthorne 21). Of all mortals, she believes that she has reached her potential in the world and there is no more use for her on the world unless she is perfect, with no birthmark and no imperfections.
For instance, when Aylmer felt miserable, she felt miserable too. Nevertheless, it can be seen that then she demonstrated a total opposite attitude, a strong woman who challenges his husband to go ahead with his experiments. A girl with no fear at all. Far from being the typical woman in her house, she is educated and intelligent, and she is able to read and understand the intricate experiments that her husband documents in his diaries. With them she understands how his husband's love for her is, and she accepts it, and that Aylmer's lofty ideals condemn him to permanent dissatisfaction. She also knows that her husband's attempts to erase the birthmark will not succeed. In spite of this, she voluntarily takes the concoction he offers. The drink finishes with the birthmark, yes, but also with her, who says goodbye to her husband making him know that his search for divine perfection has made him despise the best the earth could offer. Therefore, with all those decisions it can be seen that she has the will to do it and she can make her own decisions. She is completely different from Aylmer. She understood and was aware about what happened to the birthmark, and why she died.
Aylmer uses Georgiana’s love and trust for him against her, turning her into a scientific experiment, and taking away her life. Aylmer tells Georgiana about his displeasure with her birthmark. After an initial shocked reaction, Georgiana quickly changes her mindset to agree with her husband and lets him know: “I know not what may be the cost of both of us to rid me of this fatal birthmark. Perhaps its removal may cause cureless deformity, or may be the stain goes as deep as life itself” (222). Throughout her life, other men tell her birthmark is beautiful; however, after Georgina marries Aylmer , Georgiana now no longer wants it and wishes for it to be removed because of her husband’s wishes. This accommodates with what Aylmer wants and is the start of his scientific experiments on his wife. Later, Georgiana and Aylmer have a tense conversation debating about the
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
Hawthorne achieves this same task in the character of Georgiana in "The Birthmark." Georgiana, too, is presented as an ideal specimen of womanhood. She is beautiful, intelligent, and devoted to her husband, the alchemist, Aylmer. She would be absolute perfection, except for one flaw: a birthmark in the shape of a fairy-sized handprint on her left cheek. While those who love Georgiana attest that the mark is a symbol of the "magic endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts," Aylmer and her detractors regard it as a "bloody hand" that belies "his wifeâs liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death" (Hawthorne, "The Birthmark" 119-20). Hawthorne continues to impart Aylmerâs inner feelings of shock and horror over Georgianaâs single physical flaw, gradually leading his audience to share his disgust for the dreadful
Georgiana’s birthmark is the main symbol in the story that could have multiple meanings. It is clear what the birthmark symbolizes when Georgiana declares, “I am happy to put my life in your hands,” (Hawthorne 3). Aylmer is ready to start his experiment when Georgiana says she is willing to be a part of it. What Aylmer does not know is that the birthmark actually symbolizes her mortality and when she says she is happy to put her life in his hands, she actually means that her birthmark is her lifeline and she is happy to put it in his hands. Aylmer wanted his wife to be perfect, but he only made the outcome worse with trying to remove the mark. Another example of symbolism is when Hawthorne writes, “The mark was usually a deep red color,” (Hawthorne 1). The color red could symbolize one of many different things, but it mainly symbolizes the color of blood. Blood is a main part of one’s body and mortality, and when the birthmark is described by its deep red color, it means that the mark is her source to life. After the tragic death of Georgiana, Aylmer finally realizes that the birthmark really had been her mortality. Aylmer is so deeply caught up in forcefully trying to get Georgiana to let him remove her birthmark, he does not recognize the true perfection that was there all along. Symbolism helps the theme that is portrayed throughout the story that trying to be flawless results in a devastation.
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)
Aylmer’s craving to make his wife Georgiana perfect is destined to fail because perfection cannot be found on earth and only found in heaven. Aylmer obsesses about the birthmark that is on his wife for an extensive time that it actually starts to inconvenience him. For Aylmer, it symbolizes mortality and sin and comes to mast over Georgiana’s beauty in his cluttered mind. Consequently, her tiny imperfection, which is only a birth-mark, is all he can see and is so prominent to him. The desire for perfection not only kills Georgiana inside and out, but it also ruins her husband. Aylmer starts to break down because his desire to create the ideal woman becomes such a fixation that it prevents him from seeing all the good his wife has to over him and the world. Nevertheless, Georgiana says that she will risk her life for him and have the birthmark erased. Aylmer is very confident about it but ends up killing her in the process, emotionally and
In Hawthorne’s story, the idea of control is used in many different ways. The largest symbol of this theme is the birth mark itself on Georgiana’s cheek. This birth mark resembles a hand and represents Aylmer’s control over Georgiana. Aylmer’s wife, Georgiana, is controlled by her husband. Aylmer makes her hate the birth mark that she once loved through his own hatred of it. Georgiana, discovering her husband’s disgust of her birth mark, tells Aylmer, “To tell you the truth, it has so often been called a charm, that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so.” (340; par. 4) In this scene, Aylmer makes his wife feel foolish for accepting and even loving her own birthmark. She responds to him in the form of an apology, an apology for even having the birth mark that disgusts her husband so much. She blushes and seems embarrassed of her natural face. The hand symbolizes Aylmer’s control over Georgiana, how she feels about herself, and how he pushes the idea of the removal of the birthmark that she liked from the beginning.
In “The Birthmark” the relationships and behaviors of the character reveal much more than the story itself does. The characters of Aylmer, Georgian, Amenidab and Nature itself, through their words, actions, and behaviors give insight into a much more meaningful story. A deeper analysis of the characters reveals that they are archetypes, and as archetypes they provide a deeper hidden meaning to the story. By looking at Aylmer, Georgiana, Amenidab and Natures relationships and actions throughout the story we can see how they are used to give deeper significance.
Portrayed as spiritual and intellectual in contrast with his crude laboratory assistant Aminadab, Aylmer becomes disturbingly obsessed with a birthmark on his wife’s countenance. The plot of the short story revolves around the man’s attempt in removing the mark, which results in the death of Georgiana. In the very beginning of the story, the audience discovers through the narration that Aylmer views his wife’s birthmark as more than a congenital, benign irregularity on the skin. In reality, the primary reason why he becomes severely obsessed with the birthmark is because in his eyes, the mark symbolizes something. Aylmer proceeds to further clarify his inner thoughts by replying to his wife, “This slightest possible defect, which we hesitate whether to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection” (Mays 340). Although Georgiana is initially mortified and even goes as far to question the existence of the marriage between them, the narration later sheds light and explains that the precise reason why Aylmer is excessively bothered with the birthmark is because he regards Georgiana as virtually the embodiment of perfection. As a consequence, perceiving a flaw on his wife’s image that clashes with the concept of her beauty inevitably leads him to feel aggrieved and begin to judge the birthmark as a dangerous blemish residing on her skin.
First, Hawthorne shows his worldview through his use of Aylmer’s obsession with the birthmark to show a sign of imperfection. When Aylmer is conversing with his wife Georgiana regarding the birthmark, he says “This slightest possible defect shocks me as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection.” (Hawthorne, 5). This is important because it shows that Aylmer is troubled by the birthmark and cannot leave it alone. In addition, it also shows that Aylmer ignores the main characteristics and features of Georgiana, such as her great personal qualities, in order to focus on the one imperfection, the birthmark. Adding on, the birthmark is stated as being: “It was the fatal flaw of humanity which Nature, in one shape or another, stamps ineffaceable on all her productions” (Nelson, 12). The birthmark is a part of nature and is inevitable because it cannot be altered or removed. Furthermore, the birthmark is a reminder that imperfection is part of