The Birthmark on Mortal Perfection

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The Birthmark on Mortal Perfection
Hawthorne writes about a subject that is still very prominent now. He examines the obsession with human perfection. The story tells of a very successful scientist and philosopher, Aylmer, and his very beautiful wife Georgiana. Aylmer is obsessed with perfection, as are most scientists. He makes sure he experiments with all possible options to conclude the best results for a perfect solution.

Now Aylmer is very much in love with his wife Georgiana, and she with him. Yet he begins to start to obsess over this tiny hand-shaped mole on the left cheek of Georgiana. Most other men have claimed to like the birthmark, one as to even saying, “…some fairy at her birth hour had laid her tiny hand upon the infant’s cheek, and left this impress there in token of the magic endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts”(1131). It begins to catch his eye more and more. He even finds himself sneaking glances so that Georgiana won’t catch him staring. He starts to believe that this one tiny imperfection on her cheek shows that she is not perfect. Aylmer is frustrated to understand why Nature will not create a perfect subject. He even says to Georgiana that it may be a charm on someone else’s face, but not on hers, because she was so near to being created perfect. Many women believed that the ‘bloody hand’, as they chose to call it, quite destroyed the effect of Georgiana’s beauty, and rendered her countenance even hideous.

Hawthorne explains that Aylmer cannot stand this birthmark so much not just because it is a flaw to her perfection, but also because it is the only flaw that she possesses. He claims that it was the fatal flaw of Nature, and that Nature seems to mark all of its creations with some sort of flaw in an attempt to either show that all is, “…temporary and finite, or that their perfection must be wrought through toil and pain”(1131).

Aylmer had done a decent job at keeping it from his wife that this mark has...
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