18 May 2015
Alymer is an idiot.
When given the opportunity to choose any of our readings for a personal literary response paper, I decided to go with “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne because it is an absolutely fascinating story of the lengths you will go to make the one you love happy and the pursuit of perfection. Honestly, I didn’t deeply identify with any of the major characters but I have learned that a story doesn’t have to intensely resound with the events and details of my personal life for me to appreciate the beauty and depth of good character development.
1) Which character in your selected story stood out the most to you? Why? To what extent did you identify with him or her? Be as specific as possible.
In my opinion the antagonist of the story, Alymer was the most interesting character because he had found a wife that many other men had tried to get due to her beauty and charm, yet, he couldn’t let himself be completely happy with her due to a small birthmark that others considered to be a part of charm (Hawthorne 421,422). I struggle to identify with his character in my own life because much like Alymer, I very clearly “married up” in life as in I too married someone who is significantly more attractive than me but am very proud of her as is and wouldn’t change a thing about her. For the life of me I can’t fathom why he would find such flaw in a small birthmark to be important enough to make his wife feel anything other than beautiful. Presumably, it’s just the scientist in him that seeks complete and total perfection and considers anything less to be failure.
His selfishness keeps him from seeing how hurtful his initial comment to his wife was. In spite of how much I wanted her to not go along with his plan, she gave in and allowed him to go through this painful process. He’s the kind of character you want to shake some sense into and try to give him some perspective on his life that he can’t see. “In those days when the comparatively recent discovery of electricity and other kindred mysteries of Nature seemed to open paths into the region of miracle, it was not unusual for the love of science to rival the love of woman in its depth and absorbing energy” (420,421).It’s a struggle for me to try and understand how the love of science could rival the love of your wife but can understand the lure of success, the feeling of if I just work a little more, do a little more, think of a new idea, take one more meeting, that I could be more successful. And I have to stop and think” But, at what cost? At the cost of losing my family? “ What good would it be to be wildly successful in ways bigger than I could imagine but be completely alone as a repercussion?
In my life, I try to live by a book that I believe to be ultimate truth and in The word of God it says that a man who finds a good wife is has found favor from God, Alymer, a man of science who probably wouldn’t care what the bible says regardless, never seemed to stop and count his blessings in his life, namely his wife Georgiana. Perhaps that is one take away I can learn from Alymer, to never take my own blessings in my life for granted. My wife, my children, friends and other family. Perhaps it’s true what they say when they say “You don’t what you got… til it’s gone”. It would be nice to think that if he knew the ultimate outcome of his actions, that he was a decent enough man who loved his wife enough to know he would rather have her in his life as an “imperfect person” than to lose her entirely in the pursuit of unnecessary perfection.
2) Comment fully on the dynamics BETWEEN your character and the other characters in the story you selected. Did they get along well? Why or why not? Was there an unusual amount of tension in the relationships? If so, why?
Presumably in the beginning, Alymer had a great relationship with his wife but as the story progressed it seemed to deteriorate due to his selfishness and the way