The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay
743 Words3 Pages
The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "The Birthmark," there are many views on the need for science and its advances. Hawthorne's protagonist, Aylmer, illustrates his own personal assessment of science. The story is based on the idea that science can solve all of humanities ills and problems. Hawthorne believes that science is overrunning life. Aylmer is consumed by his passion of overtake Mother Nature. The story shows how Aylmer's passion leads to not only his downfall but that of his wife Georgiana as well. The belief that science can solve and do anything is one of ignorance because it totally disregards the human element of spirituality.
The idea of hubris, which is a Greek word…show more content…
Hawthorne develops the character of Aminadab to serve this purpose. Aminadab is the perfect contrast to Aylmer. Aminadab "seemed to represent man's physical nature; while Aylmer's slender figure, and pale, intellectual face, were no less apt a spiritual element" (48). Aminadab realizes that Georgiana is indeed perfect the way she is, and should not be tampered with. This is shown in a quote from Aminadab, " 'if she were my wife, I'd never part with that birthmark' " (48). He realizes science cannot overtake Mother Nature. Aylmer's view towards it is one of disgust. He thinks "it will be such a rapture to remove it" (48). This shows the contrast of the men, Aminadab and Aylmer. When Aminadab chuckles the "hoarse, chuckling laugh," (55) at the end of the story, it really drives Hawthorne's point home. That is, it is laughable to believe that science can solve all of life's mysteries.
Aylmer's book of experiments and their results is a metaphor for how scientific discovery only leads us to find more questions not answers. In Aylmer's book, it shows that all his great achievements and discoveries were merely accidents and by-products of his original goals that failed to achieve conclusive answers: "his most splendid successes were most invariably failures, if compared with the ideal at which he aimed" (51). It becomes apparent to the reader that all of Aylmer's attempts were merely futile and in
Analysis of The Birth Mark Essay
1177 Words5 Pages
In “The Birthmark” the relationships and behaviors of the character reveal much more than the story itself does. The characters of Aylmer, Georgian, Amenidab and Nature itself, through their words, actions, and behaviors give insight into a much more meaningful story. A deeper analysis of the characters reveals that they are archetypes, and as archetypes they provide a deeper hidden meaning to the story. By looking at Aylmer, Georgiana, Amenidab and Natures relationships and actions throughout the story we can see how they are used to give deeper significance. The character of Aylmer can be seen as a sinister, mad scientist who constantly fights with nature in order to attain human perfection. From the beginning of the story Aylmer’s…show more content…
Once again this shows Aylmer is not concerned about his wife but rather his victory of nature itself. Aylmer’s true motives can be seen at the end of the story after he has given Georgiana the liquid that supposedly will take the mark away. “’Matter and spirit-earth and heaven-have both done their part in this! Laugh, thing of the senses! You have earned the right to laugh’” (Hawthorne 231). This shows Aylmer’s moment of ecstasy as he seems to have defied nature and begins to laugh in the face of nature itself. This undirected, almost insane laughter shows Aylmer’s true motive of defying nature and creating perfection through science. The archetype of Georgiana can be seen as the perfect women, however, her birthmark acts as a symbol of imperfection and mortality that keeps her from fully pleasing her husband. Georgiana is described as beautiful and perfect except for one flaw, the birthmark. “It was the fatal flaw of humanity which Nature, in one shape or another, stamps ineffaceably on all her productions, either to imply that they are temporary and finite, or that their perfection must be wrought by toil and pain” (Hawthorne 220). The hand-shaped birthmark can be seen as her being touched by nature and acts as a symbol of imperfection and mortality in humans. The symbol of the birth-mark standing for mortality can be seen again towards the end