Analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne's the Birthmark

Topics: Gender identity, Gender role, Gender Pages: 2 (765 words) Published: June 14, 2013
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's “The Birthmark” Georgiana's identity is constructed through gender roles and spiritual aspects. Aylmer, her husband, perception of her physical beauty is almost perfect except the birthmark on her left cheek which he believes to look like a tiny crimson hand. Some believed the birthmark to be a hand print from a fairy that was left as she was being born. Men in the past felt deeply for Georgiana, they viewed that birthmark as some that was beautiful “Many a desperate swain would have risked life for the privilege of pressing his lips to the mysterious hand” (Hawthorne). Georgiana has always felt like it was a gift form an angel. Due to her spiritual connection with her birthmark we see that the author is using religion to aid in constructing her identity. When Aylmer first brings up talk of removing the birthmark she is appalled at the notion however as Aylmer's obsession with removal of the birthmark grows so does her desire to please her husband. The gender roles of the time are shaping her identity to the extent that she feels compelled to change who she is for the happiness of her husband. Aylmer's obsession of the crimson hand grows so much that he cannot look at her the same way. “Georgiana soon learned to shudder at his gaze” (Hawthorne). She begins to feel so bad about the birthmark that she develops a depressing attitude towards it At this point Georgiana will do anything to please her husband and gain his approval. Aylmer has shaped her gender identity of being a good wife and to always please her husband that she will now stop at nothing to please him risking even death to make him happy. “Danger is nothing to me; for life while this hateful mark makes me the object of you horror and disgust,--life is a burden which I would fling down with joy” (Hawthorne). Georgiana's life is taken in the end because of Aylmer's desire to fix something that he believed was wrong with her.

I myself have had identity issues involving gender...
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