Beauty: the Eye of the Beholder

Topics: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Allegory, Young Goodman Brown / Pages: 5 (1070 words) / Published: Aug 23rd, 2009

"Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them." David Hume 's Essays, Moral and Political, 1742.

Beauty: The Eye of the Beholder

Beauty is apparent in the moment in time we recognize it. The bases of its perception is not clearly defined by a skeleton pattern, but rather hidden within the recesses of our minds derived from the façades of what we love. Beauty then is the moment of one’s realization.

Like most stories and novels by Nathaniel Hawthorne, “The Birthmark” is an allegory and much of the allegorical meaning is derived through Hawthorne’s use of symbolism. Since Hawthorne is engaged in the telling of a moral tale, it is only fitting that many of the symbols in “The Birthmark” pertain to deeper allegorical meanings. (Nicole Smith, 2007)

Of the many symbols used within this story, Hawthorne’s use of the birthmark symbolically characterizes the sinful imperfections of mankind. Hawthorne mostly likely inherited this understanding from his Puritan ancestors a brooding preoccupation with the idea of Original Sin. (
Another meaning Hawthorne attempts to convey is the power of science (and what happens when science is coupled with arrogance) as well as the message about what occurs when human beings attempt to undermine nature. Interestingly, Aylmer, is obsessed with nature and perfection yet in a vain attempt to create something perfect, he only destroys it. His act of arrogance to change the outward appearance of his wife is in direct opposition to the biblical verse found in the Book of Luke 6:41-42 "It 's easy to see a smudge on your neighbor 's face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, 'Let me wash your face for you, ' when your own face is distorted by contempt? It 's this I-know-better-than-you mentality again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your own part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face and you might be fit to

References: Nicole Smith. “The Birthmark.” Extended Plot Summary. Article Myriad, 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2008 from Katherine Snipes. "The Birthmark." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition. Salem Press, 2004. 2006. Retrieved 27 May, 2008 from Wikipedia®. “Nathaniel Hawthorne” Literary Style and Theme. Retrieved 27 May, 2008 from

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