The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

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Pages: 5

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne
In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story The Birthmark, the narrator introduces us to Aylmer, a brilliant scientist who spent his life studying nature extensively to the detriment of his own personal life. His wife, Georgiana, has been marked with a small, red birthmark on her cheek that most men found attractive all her life. Aylmer only sees this birthmark as a flaw and his desire for perfection can only result in death for Georgiana because becoming an ideal, perfect being means she cannot exist in this world. He decides he is going to remove the birthmark to make his wife perfect, without knowing that by doing so he kills her.
Aylmer sees Georgiana’s birthmark as a symbol of human imperfection,
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Georgiana had no experience of her birthmark being a burden to her beauty and never expected Aylmer to wish the birthmark to be removed. Eckstein asserts that it was no shock that Georgiana was hurt and angered by Aylmer’s desire to remove her birthmark to make her perfect. She states, “ It is no wonder that soon after their marriage, when Aylmer proposes removing the crimson hand, that Georgiana is hurt and angered. Nothing in courtship has prepared her for this.” (4).
Throughout Georgiana’s life, romance has prepared her for submission in marriage, but not martyrdom. After many “seasons” (205) of being aware of Aylmer’s obsession to maker her perfect, Georgiana “voluntarily took up the subject” of removing her birthmark (206). Inevitably she becomes to see herself as a “burden” (207) and “a sad possession” (217). Eckstein suggests that Georgiana “is a victim who participates in her own destruction” (5) and ends up dying a martyr to romance.
By surgically removing Georgiana of her imperfection, Aylmer also removes her of her humanity. Therefore by removing Georgiana of