Examples Of Allegory In The Birthmark

1023 Words5 Pages
The story of Icarus is a well known Greek myth that depicts the dangers of untamed hubris. Within the myth, Icarus, foolishly ignores his father’s warnings on the usage of his wax wings. With reckless abandon, he flies too close to the sun, his wings melt, and the result is him tragically falling to his death. The story is a simple enough, but remains a timeless allegory remembered centuries later. Nathaniel Hawthorne, if nothing else, was a master of the art of allegory. In his short story “The Birthmark”, Hawthorne tells a similar tale to that of the myth of Icarus. Within his story, Hawthorne depicts the folly of scientist Aylmer, a man whose foolishness leads him to to also fall short of grand aspirations, losing all he held dear in the…show more content…
Not only is his obsession over his wife’s health concerning, but it is made apparent that Alymer’s genius is the accumulation of failures. As Georgiana finds, while reading through his records, “his most splendid successes were almost invariably failures, if compared with the ideal at which he aimed” (Hawthorne 8). There is a strange irony, that Alymer, who for all his genius has done nothing but fail at his aspirations, sought to create perfection in another person. Sadly, perfection is not only subjective, but as Hawthorne demonstrates, it is unobtainable. When Aylmer reveals the progress he has made on fixing his wife’s mark, he uses a flower as a demonstration. The flower is perfect, “but Georgiana had no sooner touched the flower than the whole plant suffered a blight, its leaves turning coal-black as if by the agency of fire” (Hawthorne). Again, her fate is foreshadowed, as it is made clear that perfection within the living is simply out of reach. Georgiana, subtly made to hate herself, is fated to suffer the same fate as the flower she reached
Open Document