“The Birth-Mark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne carries multiple symbolic elements, and leaves the reader with an collection of morals to interpret—the battles of man against nature, the struggles of character in relationships, the dangers of arrogance; interestingly, all of these messages are incorporated in and surrounded by the birth-mark. Nathaniel Hawthorne has received recognition to be one of the most brilliant minds of American literature. Born into an area rich on old Puritan-Christian ideologies, Hawthorne frequently attempted matters of psychology and philosophy—challenging the basis of religious and civil morality; frequently evidence of these arguments were buried within symbolic elements, revealing themselves later toward the end of the narrative. Hawthorne’s “The Birth-Mark” shows these techniques. Aylmer was a stereotypical man of science—knowledgeable and arrogant, carrying a number of neuroses. In reviewing the way this character was described, we might come to the conclusion that the scientist suffered from narcissism, perfectionism, and something like a god-complex. This man wise and worldly eventually fell for the lovely Georgiana—an idealist—whom seemed to be perfect in every way, save one small blemish on her left cheek. Described as a relatively small mark which no other would bother, the reddish birth-mark in the shape of a tiny hand was enough to drive Aylmer mad. In Aylmer’s obsession over the imperfection he began to associate the mark with almost every negative that humanity and the world had to offer. To him the blemish symbolized “his wife’s liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and [die].” (Hawthorne) Following an evening discussion about the mark, Aylmer’s hatred and obsession infected also his wife. Georgiana—young and naïve, having a great love and admiration for her husband—stuck to his words, and desired the mark to be removed by the amazing magic of his science—even if it would possibly result in death. Aylmer quicklyannounced that he...
Cited: McKenna, John J. "Lessons About Pygmalion Projects And Temperament In Hawthorne 's "The Birthmark.." Eureka Studies In Teaching Short Fiction 7.1 (2006): 36-43. i Web. 07 November 2012.
Walsh, Conor. "AminadabIn Nathaniel Hawthorne 's THE BIRTH-MARK." Explicator 67.4 (2009): 258-260. Academic Search Premier. Web.07 November 2012.
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