Hawthorne's Inference of Love and Science

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Andrew Noble
Mr. Doran
American Literature
7 May 2008
Hawthorne’s Inference of Love and Science
In both “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter” Nathaniel Hawthorne includes two main characters whose selfish attempts to perfect the ones they love end up proving the laws of nature are not to be tampered with. In “The Birthmark” Alymer is easily blinded by success and let’s his tendency to strive for perfection get in the way of his wife’s feelings. Alymer wishes to remove a birthmark that perturbs him on his wife’s almost infallible face, despite her discontent towards the subject. Dr. Rappaccini looks past his daughter’s wishes by building her immunity to poison and turning her into a living toxic plant in hopes of shielding her from all the evils of the world. Both of Hawthorne’s characters face a subconscious struggle between aiming for scientific stardom and possessing humaneness towards the ones they have claimed to love.

“The Birthmark’s” main character is introduced as an over confident scientist who has juggled the responsibility of his work and having time for his wife. Alymer’s beautiful wife, Georgiana possesses a birthmark on her cheek in the shape of a pygmy sized, crimson hand. When Alymer’s suggests removing Georgiana’s birthmark she becomes overly insecure and insulted that her husband would be so bent on infallibility. Alymer’s obsessive and over ambitious nature blinds him due to the fact that he lets such flaws stand in the way of making the right choices (Quinn/Baldessarini). Alymer’s fixations show how he becomes a perfect example of a character that would test nature’s process in order to meet his own needs. It becomes evident that Alymer’s overconfidence in his scientific studies out rides his care for Georgiana, showing he is devoid of tact. Alymer’s wife’s consent to removing the birthmark serves as a test for Alymer in whether he will risk hurting his wife just to build upon his ever growing fame. Elizabeth R. Napier states...
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