31 March 2014
Response Paper Four Romanticism was a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late eighteenth century; it emphasized inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual. Among the main values of Romanticism were the individual, heroism, feeling, creativity, and nature. In Hawthorne’s “The Birth-Mark” he addresses the Romanticism values of feeling and nature throughout the themes of the story. “The Birth-Mark” really emphasizes the Romanticism value of feeling. The value of feeling is seen when the narrator describes Alymer’s love for his young wife and his love for science, “His love for his young wife might not prove the stronger of the two; but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and uniting the strength of the latter to its own” (690).
A theme throughout “The Birth-Mark” is imperfection. The theme of imperfection goes along with the Romanticism value of feeling because Alymer feels his beautiful wife Georgiana is imperfect due to the birth-mark on her left cheek (691). The birth-mark bothered Alymer for so long until he finally spoke up and asked Georgiana if she had ever considered removing it. Georgiana was angered that her husband would felt this way about her, about her beauty (691). As time went on, Georgiana saw how much her birth-mark bothered the husband she so dearly loved and it became a bother to her as well, “If there be the remotest possibility of it,” continued Georgiana, “let the attempt be made, at whatever risk. Danger is nothing to me; for life– while this hateful mark makes me the object of your horror and disgust– life is burthen which I would fling down with joy” (693). Georgiana came to see her birth-mark as an imperfection of nature.
Science versus Nature was also one of the themes throughout “The Birth-Mark.” This theme of Science versus Nature goes directly with the Romantic value of nature. The theme is seen when Hawthorne describes Alymer as a man of science, “In the latter part of the last century, there lived a man of science – an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy…” (690). Hawthorne describes how not long after Alymer married his beautiful wife Georgiana, scientific discoveries and natural discoveries were being