Literary Analyisis of "The Birthmark"

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Jessica Johnson
Dr. DeFee
English 212-006
March 15, 2013
Literary Analysis of “The Birthmark”
Romanticism is the keen sense of life of the natural person. It was a cultural movement from 1770 to 1860. This movement established nature as the beginning and the end. A notable writer of the Romanticism era was Nathaniel Hawthorne. One of his more significant Romantic works is “The Birthmark”. This story reveals the pursuit of perfection in a world where it is non-existent.

The protagonist in this story emulates a prime characteristic of a romantic character. Aylmer, a scientist, has a distinguished intuitive perception of man and nature; therefore, he believed that man could be perfected through science. The defects of a person are often what make them beautiful. Though Aylmer was far from perfect, he egotistically desired a flawless woman. He ignored that fact that imperfections “[Are] the fatal flaw of humanity, which Nature…stamps ineffaceably on all her productions" (Hawthorne 633). Imperfections are the essence of every being, and with no soul life is void. Although he portrayed the act that his love for his wife was stronger than his love for science, he did not have a love for imperfect beauty. We live in an imperfect world, but “Aylmer possessed this degree of faith in man’s ultimate control over nature” (Hawthorne 631). His wife, Georgina’s birthmark was “the visible mark of earthly imperfection” (Hawthorne 632). To Aylmer and Georgina’s knowledge, Aylmer was not a successful scientist. And even with this knowledge, Georgina submitted to and trusted her husband to attempt to make her perfect in an imperfect world.

In Aylmer’s selfish endeavor of removing this slight blemish from his wife’s face, he first tried to create a perfect plant. Once he prepared the perfect plant, it soon died. This experiment once again left him unsuccessful, but his sub-thoughtful excuse was “there was too powerful a stimulus.” (Hawthorne 636). Even with this experiment...
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