The short story “The Birthmark”, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, tells the story of a scientist, his wife, and a unique birthmark that flaws the near perfect face of his wife. Through this story Hawthorne is trying to get a message across to the audience; sometimes, man is too eager to repair natural imperfections that may exist using science, rather than seeing these imperfections as beautiful natural occurrences, which will eventually lead to the destruction of nature. To get this point across to his readers, Hawthorne uses a lot of symbolism. In the story, each main character and the birthmark represents a different thing. Aylmer, the scientist and husband, represents mankind. Georgiana, the wife with the birthmark upon her cheek, represents nature. Finally, the birthmark, a reddish hand shaped mark upon her cheek, represents the flaws in nature.
First, Aylmer, the scientist and husband of Georgiana, represents mankind. Aylmer sees Georgiana as a perfect beautiful woman, but one day he let the birthmark’s presence effect the beauty of his almost flawless wife. As the years go by, mans urge to change nature using the new technology or knowledge they have gained has increased greatly. Aylmer, a symbol for mankind, is all too eager to get rid of the crimson birthmark on Georgiana’s cheek because he has the knowledge and science required to do it and he has the chance to put it to use. “Georgiana, you have led me deeper than ever into the heart of science. I feel myself fully competent to render this dear cheek as faultless as its fellow; and then, most beloved, what will be my triumph when I shall have corrected what Nature left imperfect in her fairest work!” (Hawthorne 61) Aylmer is confident that with his scientific ability he will be able to fix the imperfection of nature upon Georgiana’s cheek. If mankind continues to fix in nature what is flawed, then there will be nothing left that is natural and nature will have been destroyed.
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