The Birthmark Essay

Submitted By dcpmold
Words: 864
Pages: 4

Summary/ Critique of “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Summary
In “The Birthmark,” the main characters are Aylmer and Georgiana. Aylmer is a brilliant scientist and natural philosopher who left his scientific work for a while to marry a woman named Georgiana. Georgiana‘s beauty is well known throughout the entire town. Aylmer is amazed by Georgiana’s perfection, except for one little flaw on her face, a birthmark on her cheek. Georgiana's birthmark is very tiny. It disappears when she blushes. Many men have admired her birthmark and would risk their lives just to kiss it.
Not long after their marriage, Alymer (rudely) asked his wife whether she ever thought about removing her birthmark. She replied that many people have called it “a charm” and that she truly believes it is a charm. Georgiana was angered by this question. It sent her to tears wondering how her husband could love her if he thought her face looked deformed with the birthmark.
As time goes on, Alymer is getting more and more obsessed about removing Georgiana’s birthmark. He even dreamt about it one night. In his dream, he removed Georgiana’s birthmark with a knife. While doing this, he reached deep into her heart.
Despite the risk, Georgiana decided to join Alymer’s experiment of getting her birthmark removed. They move back to Alymer’s old apartment to start the experiment. He has had many scientific achievements, like discoveries of volcanoes, mines, fountains and other natural wonders in the past. When they get into the apartment, Aminadab, Alymer's assistant, walked in and said he would not remove the birthmark if Georgiana was his wife. Regardless, Alymer proceeds with his work of creating a potion to wipe away the birthmark.
During Alymer’s lab work, Georgiana finds Alymer’s journals, in which he recorded many of his experiments that were not successful. Strangely, her love and affection towards Alymer grows even stronger. She wanted to comfort him, so she sings to him. Later, Alymer discovers that Georgiana’s birthmark has moved deeper into her skin. Hence, it is now too dangerous to try to remove it. Alymer is very disappointed. However, Georgiana insists that he keep trying his potion. With Alymer’s assurance of success, Georgiana drinks the potion and fall asleep. Luckily, Alymer’s potion works and the birthmark slowly fades away, but so does Georgiana’s life. Georgiana dies.
Critique
Perfection is what is allowed only to God. When you are trying to overpower human nature, you will be punished as a consequence. In “The Birthmark”, Alymer thinks the tiny human hand shaped birthmark on Georgiana’s cheek represents an earthly imperfection. He even describes the birthmark as a defect of her beauty, as if Georgiana is some kind of doll. This proves that Alymer didn’t know how to love his wife as herself. He didn’t realize that imperfection is the real beauty of a life.
What really makes a human “perfect”? What are the aspects of becoming a perfect person? Does perfection even exist in this world? When Alymer shows a strong desire to change his wife to be perfect, these questions arose.
Alymer is someone who is chasing a non-existing matter, which only exists in a fairytale world. He didn’t love Georgiana. He only used her as his way…