Nathaniel Hawthorne Symbolism In The Birthmark

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Analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark
Hawthorne’s short story The Birthmark invites several possible readings because of the use of its elaborate symbolism, and therefore it is easily open to interpretation of its figurative meaning. On a literal level, it is not that unusual that Aylmer considers the birthmark an unattractive cosmetic flaw and wishes it to be removed from his wife’s face. Domineering male ego in a heteronormative patriarchal world is not something new or surprising. However, there are many more deeper interpretations possible. If one is inclined to examine the story closer and under the scope of Renaissance glasses, it could be argued that Aylmer’s failed quest for perfection, his effort to bring about perfection
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In accordance with Christian faith, we are God’s creations, and we were created in his eternal wisdom. Furthermore, we are sinful imperfect beings not entitled of creating perfection Trying to “correct” something God had created, trying to play God, would therefore be a blasphemous act of sacrilege. Thus, Aylmer’s quest for perfection can be viewed as a defiance of God’s will. This interpretation can be supported by the fact, that the author mentions the shape of the birthmark; it resembles a tiny hand. One could argue that it represents the hand of God, as if the maker while crafting her beautiful face personally touched her and left a mark. In such a case, Aylmer’s desire to play god is highly problematic, albeit very ambitious.
All of these are compelling interpretations even though the official reading has much more to do with sexuality and Aylmer’s need to contain his wife and his inability to come to terms with her sensuality. However, in the end it is up to the individual reader to interpret the symbols and their meaning, one could argue that there is not one correct interpretation, and that is what makes this short story, and art in general, so