The Birth-Mark

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” shows the strong desire Aylmer feels towards his wife, Georgiana, and his extensive knowledge in science. Aylmer is obsessed with perfection because he believes his knowledge of science can achieve it. In the end, however, his goal is reached at the cost of something very valuable to him. Aylmer thrives on believing his knowledge in science is superior, therefore believes his practical abilities are at their highest. In the practice scene he says “unless all my science has deceived me, it cannot fail” (1031). When he states “all my science”, he believes his understanding of science cannot be wrong. Aylmer’s ego has developed so significantly from what he believes is perfect, that nothing can change his right and wrongs; he says “I am convinced of the perfect practicability of its removal” (1024). He is so caught up with the imagination and idea of his science that he was able to even convince his own wife his practice is perfect. She says “It will be on the same principle that would induce me to take a dose of poison if offered by your hand” (1030). Not only is she convinced of his idea, but decides to follow through on his procedure. She is convinced that Aylmer thinks this horrible birthmark is preventing his wife from being considered perfect. Aylmer’s obsession with making his wife become what he sees as perfect, affects his wife’s confidence, and she becomes ashamed of her appearance. “She placed her hand over her cheek to hide the terrible mark from her husband’s eye” (1029). She places her hand over her beauty mark because she is ashamed to show her natural face to her opinionated husband. He has gotten into her head, believing that this beauty mark is stopping her husband from finding her attractive. Aylmer’s assistant does not hold the same opinion as his boss when he says “If she were my wife, I’d never part with that birthmark” (1025). He seems to find her as beautiful the way she was born; he feels...
tracking img