In the short story The Birthmark, Nathaniel Hawthorne used Aylmer and his wife Georgiana to display that no person can be perfect. He does this by using Aylmer obsession with perfection and science. His wife Georgiana beauty is amazing and almost perfect, except for a crimson scar on her check that looks like a hand. Aylmer wants to remove the mark that symbolizes imperfection, sin, and mortality; though it could result in death. In the act, he is acting like God. Hawthorne’s argument in The Birthmark is our imperfections, sin, and mortality is what makes us human and cannot be taken away.
At the start of the short story Hawthorne mentions that Aylmer is “a man of science” “in the latter part of the century” (211). Hawthorne wrote The Birthmark during a period where people was faithful to what science had to offer. Having this being said Hawthorne mistrusted science. Scientist during this time seem to have been God-like. Aylmer played a God-like roll in The Birthmark. Also, his wife looked at him as a God too.
It is revealed when Aylmer was troubled by a crimson mark on his wife’s left cheek. He asked his wife why she never wanted to remove it. His wife Georgiana responded with “to tell the truth, it has been so often called a charm, that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so” (212). At this moment in the short story Georgiana had no problem with her birthmark. Then Aylmer criticized her mark, because she “came so nearly perfect from the hand of nature” (212).
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The main literary device in this story is symbolism. The birthmark seems to represent many things to each character described. Hawthorne seems to use the concept of science to symbolize the flaw of perfection. The symbolism of Aylmer’s science and knowledge takes its turn shining a spotlight, as a narrative nod toward the practicality and perfection of science.
In the story “The Birth-Mark” Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates a man with an obsession for perfection of the human body. With a desire to reach the ultimate level of perfection, Aylmer’s obsession ultimately creates a path of destruction that tragically ends in the death of his devoted wife, Georgiana.
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.
Aylmer is an opposite representation of C. JoyBell’s quote because he loses sight of his love of Georgiana for scientific perfection, without any self reflection upon the matter. Moreover, Aylmer’s want to dispel Georgiana's birthmark produces a change in his feelings toward her. When discussing the birthmark and a possible removal with Georgiana, Aylmer said, “‘you [Georgiana] came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature… as being the visible mark of earthly
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.
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 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
Through this characterization of Aylmer, Hawthorne shows how scientists always want to understand how or why certain structures or entities formed in nature. They do not merely accept the world but rather strive to uncover its hidden secrets. Scientists are determined and persistent in their work to attain their various goals. For example, Aylmer, “attempted to fathom the very process by which Nature assimilates all her precious influences” (180). As he studied the human body in his younger days, he revisits the topic when he plans to remove Georgiana’s birthmark.
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 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.
Sin, a dark and powerful force, twists the soul and warps the mind to the point where it leaves society with unconquerable difficulties in everyday life. Nathaniel Hawthorne, quite successfully, uses literature to its full potential in order to express sins presence in life. He uses the short story, “The Birthmark” to express this theme. In this story, a man by name Aylmer for the first time sees a small defect in his otherwise beautiful wife, Georgiana. When Aylmer mentions it to her, she feels hurt, but it does not seem to affect her self-image. However, as time went on, the birthmark started to bother her causing her to believe she was flawed and in need of fixing. With the assistance of Aylmer's servant, Aminadab, Aylmer creates a miracle drug that would cure his wife of her imperfection: the birthmark. The possibly deadly drug incites fear in her husband; however, the blemish on her face troubles her, as well as her husband, to the point where she believes her life means nothing unless she could get it removed. After much meticulous preparation, the wife takes the cure. At first, everything seems well as her birthmark faded, however soon everything goes wrong, and Georgina has a terrible reaction. Soon after taking the cure she dies, leaving Aylmer heartbroken and alone without his wife. In, “The Birthmark,” Nathaniel Hawthorne brings to light sin’s presence in society through the use of allusions, symbolism, color, and beauty.
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.
Aside from Hawthorne?s use of symbolism, his extensive use of imagery also contributes to the notion that man cannot perfect nature. Aylmer?s true goal in this story is to force Georgiana to believe that her birthmark is ?a symbol of [her] liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death? (204) and she must rid herself of it. He creates this image in order to brainwash her into believing that it is a ?dreadful hand? (207), and she, too, should wish it away. Finally, after gazing at, and studying the birthmark, this horrible image in which Aylmer had implanted in the mind of his lovely wife has become all too unbearable. Georgiana, feeling unworthy of her husband, freely surrenders herself to Aylmer and his science. ?Either remove this dreadful hand, or take my wretched life,? (207) she tells him, while rationalizing the validity of science on such a thing. Another image Hawthorne makes use of, in order to potentially change the mind of Georgiana, is that of the geranium, once diseased with yellow spots of death, is now full of life. The diseased flower symbolizes, in the eyes of Aylmer, a diseased Georgiana.