It is hard to say that one is human and perfect at the same time. Human beings are not capable of achieving perfection; if that would be so, humans would stop being humans. By nature the human race is full of flaws, some appearing as early as in the womb.
In Nathaniel Hawthorne 's “The Birthmark”, we find the tragic story of a woman named Georgiana who sacrificed her life for the sake of appeasing her husband, Aylmer. What did Georgiana do that it was more favorable for her to die than to continuing to displease her husband? Georgiana, who was otherwise hailed as incomparably beautiful, had a birthmark on her face. Aylmer desired this to remove this birthmark, which he considered the one thing keeping her from being “perfect”, from her face. In an attempt to remedy his wife’s “imperfection”, Aylmer makes an elixir for her to drink. While this elixir successfully removes the birthmark, the same elixir also causes Georgiana to die soon after. This story brings to light several examples of how society belittles women and puts their desires below the desires of men.
Imperfection in Scarlet We set our scene in a Puritan town in 1600s New England. Nathaniel Hawthorne weaves a tale of imperfection, guilt, and secret sin. In the strict town, resident Hester Prynne stands upon a scaffold with a baby and a Scarlet Letter upon her bosom, both tokens of her sin. The intricate letter “A” stands for her very sin of adultery which lead to the birth of the child in her arms. The townspeople cannot help but stare at symbol of imperfection, but they cannot stare at what is underneath it all. Hidden and locked away was the same imperfection hidden on the town’s own reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. A man of God with a burden to bear, the guilt would seep into his soul. Him, the father of Pearl, the baby born into
He groped along as stealthily, with as cautious a tread, and as wary an outlook, as a thief entering a chamber where a man lies only half asleep,—or, it may be, broad awake,—with purpose to steal the very treasure which this man guards as the apple of his eye. In spite of his premeditated carefulness, the floor would now and then creak; his garments would rustle; the shadow of his presence, in a forbidden proximity, would be thrown across his victim. In other words, Mr. Dimmesdale, whose sensibility of nerve often produced the effect of spiritual intuition, would become vaguely aware that something inimical to his peace had thrust itself into relation with him. But Old Roger Chillingworth, too, had perceptions that were almost intuitive; and when the minister threw his startled eyes towards him, there the physician sat; his kind, watchful, sympathizing, but never intrusive friend.
However, Dimmesdale’s self-punishment goes to a new level when he begins to torture himself physically. Not only had the minister been refusing to seek help, evident by his uneasiness towards Roger’s medical advice even before his true identity was revealed, but he went as far as to inflict harm upon himself. As Nathaniel Hawthorne describes, “In Dimmesdale’s secret closet, under lock and key, there was a bloody scourge.... It was his custom, too, as it has been that of many other pious Puritans, to fast… until his knees trembled beneath him… He kept vigils, likewise, night after night…” (141). This demonstrated the extent of Dimmesdale's self-punishment through starvation, whippings, and sleep deprivation. The self-torment escalates even further when it is found out that Dimmesdale had also been imprinting his chest with the letter “A,” leaving many to theorize that the mark either came from burning or cutting. In comparing Dimmesdale’s fasting to that of the other Puritans, Hawthorne also states, that Dimmesdale did not harm himself “in order to purify the body and render it the fitter medium of celestial illumination, but… as an act of penance” (141). The novel emphasizes that Dimmesdale’s self-torment is not him committing self-flagellation to purify his soul of sin, but rather an attempt to punish himself for what he believed was a wrong-doing. Due to these actions, Dimmesdale’s character could be viewed as a desperate man attempting to right his wrongs, but the fact
Nathanial Hawthorne writes a compelling story about a recently married scientist whose wife has a blemish on her cheek. “The Birthmark” written in 1843 is a critique of domesticity, feminine sexuality, and perfectionism. Cindy Weinstein takes the stance that “The Birthmark” is a critique of feminine sexuality. Weinstein suggests, “A key reason, then, that Aylmer wants to erase the birthmark is that it signifies a sexuality with which he is deeply uncomfortable” (123). This argument is seen throughout Hawthorne’s story, but Weinstein’s argument can be taken a step further to deal with the root cause, control. Aylmer is disturbed with Georgiana’s birthmark due to the fact that it signifies her sexual desires that he is unable to control.
Constantly being torn down and belittled over the course of a lifetime can put a toll on anyone’s sense of purpose and health, so it makes sense that in the 1916 play Trifles by Susan Glaspell someone finally snaps. In the play, Minnie Wright is accused of killing her husband John Wright in his sleep. The mystery, however, does not surround Minnie’s innocence, but rather her motivation in killing her husband. Ironically, the mystery is solved, not by those who purposefully came to the house to investigate, by the women who came as friends of the accused. By the finale of the play, the men in the party have still failed to find any useful evidence and are actively being worked against, as the women are hiding a crucial bit of evidence. But
Pearl is a product of sin committed by Hester Prynne and Arthur Dimmesdale, who has a large impact on those around her. Pearl’s role in the story could be seen in many ways, but Anne Marie McNamara, writer of “The Role of Pearl”, believes that her biggest role is to draw Dimmesdale to confess his sin. McNamara’s view of Pearl’s role in The Scarlet Letter is right, and it is best drawn out over her curiosity of Dimmesdale’s heart, the brookside scene, and Dimmesdale’s confession.
Dimmesdale, who is a minister and religious model within a strictly, moral society, was in constant fear of the judgments and criticisms he would face not only by his community that respected him, but God as well. When Hester became publically known for her sin and was questioned about the father of pearl, Dimmesdale told her “yet better were it so, than to hide a guilty heart through life. What can thy silence do for him?’ (47) Dimmesdale, being the father, saw the consequences of silence as it impacted his life in a rather negative way. He became ashamed of himself, and felt as though he was incapable of being forgiven by God and the public. His negative view upon himself demonstrated how he permitted his sinful action to take control over his life as he it caused him to become ill both mentally and physically. Dimmesdale tolerated his wrongdoing to deprive him from his ability to choose to live in happiness as it he decided to keep his immoral act in secret. A secret that changed his life for the worse and made him submissive to the feelings of humiliation and fault that it brought forth in his life. However, when Dimmesdale learns to accept his wrong and present to his society, he gains a sense independence. He is no longer confined to the negative thoughts and sufferings that his
This permanent marking is like a voice that never stops screaming into my already beaten ears. I feel utterly alone, except for this, the scarlet letter on my bosom. And ofcourse, the living proof of my crime, my little Pearl, who is also a daily reminder of my misdoings. She has been nagging me to tell her the meaning of my “A”, but deep down I am unable to tell her the truth. For she is too young to know the real significance of my letter. I lamely told her I wear it for the sake of the gold thread, but I know she can read right through my transparent lies. I often wonder if my little Pearl knows the truth, she even pointed out Dimmesdale’s frequent habit of grabbing his heart. As I continue to overthink this situation, I start to wonder
As this story begins, Mr. Wright has been murdered and his wife the star witness. The evidence is slowly breaking down their so called case. Women of this time period were not treated like men, a woman was only good when she was slaving for her husband and his needs. As Emily Dickinson once wrote “Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul/ and sings the tune-without the words, / and never stops at all.” Mrs. Wright used to sing but Mr. Wright did not like that and forced her to a quiet. Mr. Wright was a bitter old man playing a gentleman; never taking a liking to kids he stole her hope for children, leaving her baron in her womb and her heart. He was a control maniac and demanded power in every aspect of this poor woman’s life; No Children, No Song, No Friends; she had nothing, which meant nothing to lose. In Susan Glaspell’s drama, “Trifles”, we explore the gender inequality between men and women of that time and why that has such a large influence on the murder investigation.
One of the most striking aspects of the 19th century is the distinctive use of gender roles and expectations. Specifically, these aspects are provided strongly in the “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a short story that demonstrates the 19th century couple, Aylmer and Georgiana, who are faced with the predicament of an imperfection taking the shape of a birthmark upon Georgina's cheek. By 19th century standards, Georgiana is successful at fulfilling the role of a wife.
One of the major themes presented in the story is the difference between reality and imagination. Mrs. Dover sees and hears various noises and objects, yet it is unknown if what she is experiencing is all in her mind or truly happening. She physically sees and touches the letter, but her, “Association of the letter with the soldier-lover makes the reality of the letter questionable, although it is a physical object” (“The Demon Lover”).
The Fate of Women in “The Birthmark” Wilson Sullivan in “Nathaniel Hawthorne” in New England Men of Letters states that Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale, “The Birthmark,” depicts the efforts “of a deranged scientist to obtain total perfection” in his wife by removal of a facial blemish. In this story the scientist operates on the superficial level of the physical world, while the woman, the truly heroic woman, functions on the level of the heart and soul, the more significant level. She it is who in her virtue provides for the reader an example to live by, even though she loses her life in the process. This essay hopes to explore the status, role, attitude toward women and other such issues.
nglish 1302 30 October 2017 The Birthmark Literature Review The short story, “The birthmark”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne is about a man, Aylmer who gets married to Georgiana, but he is disturbed by the birth mark on her cheek. Aylmer asks, “Have you ever considered that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?” (Hawthorne 1). Despite feeling disturbed by Aylmer’s question, Georgiana says gave in. The short story is dominant with the subject of subordination of women in a male dominated society (Zanger 367). Furthermore, the story shows how men see women as objects of perfection and want to change them. Some critics agree with Hawthorne’s, “The Birthmark” interpretation that it is the external sign of her human, imperfect condition. These critics, therefore, understand Aylmer‘s attempt to remove it to express their scientific knowledge. Also, the critics agree that the short story shows that Aylmer’s attempt to remove the birth is an expression of too aspiring idealism. On the other hand, some critics argue that the theme of the short story is the ruthless course of the nineteenth century. The critics argue that the short story expresses the relationship between maturity and immaturity. This paper, therefore, reviews literature on the criticisms of “The Birthmark” while focusing on the similarities and differences of ideas among the critics.