The Absolute Power of Men in a Patriarchal Society

2033 WordsJul 9, 20189 Pages
The time setting of the short story “The Birth-Mark” was the eighteenth century, a quite difficult era for the lives of women. In a journal published by Helga Madland, it was mentioned “Since the Graeco-Roman period, women had been perceived as inferior to males in the social hierarchy;..”(pg167). The low status of women in the society has been a big issue in the eighteenth century as reflected in the story “The Birth-Mark” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In this story, the unevenly distributed power between male and female eventually result in tragedy of women. “The Birth-Mark” by Hawthorne clearly proves that masculine power always dominates. Hawthorne started the story by introducing the protagonist Alymer as a “man of…show more content…
Opposed to the scientific authority that Alymer used to express the masculine power, Georgiana’s natural birthmark provided a chance for people to see the extremely low social status of women. When Alymer wants Georgiana to remove the birthmark on her cheek, she was angry at first. Her tears rolled down and she was angry. However, she was not able to defend herself or argue with her husband and this showed some sort of weak feminine status. Although she really loves Alymer, she was still resisting the idea to remove the birthmark. Nonetheless, when she saw the expression on Alymer’s face grew more serious, she was willing to risk her life to have this birthmark removed. Through the force of nature exerted on Georgiana, which is further reflected on her birthmark, we can also see the dominant power of men that women are afraid to react against. The conflict between science and nature is shown from the relationship between Alymer and Georgiana. Alymer is a symbol of science, whereas Georgiana is a symbol of nature. Her beauty, including her inborn birthmark are all creations of nature. Alymer planned to use a series of scientific inventions to challenge the nature. He was trying to change the only imperfection in Georgiana’s face that was created by the nature. He invented potions to erase defects and imperfections on women’ faces. He also invented poison that can shorten the natural life span of a person. When he persuaded Georgiana to remove her
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