Georgiana's Symbol In The Birth-Mark By Nathaniel Hawthorne

670 Words3 Pages

The title of the short story “The Birth-Mark” reflects the strongest symbol in the story, the birthmark on Georgiana’s cheek. Throughout the story the birthmark is referenced in a variety of ways to show how it is diversely perceived by different people. Those different perceptions work in conjunction with the end of the story to portray the birthmark’s different symbolic meanings. Right away in the story the reader is given two different perceptions of the birthmark, one from Aylmer, Georgiana’s husband, and one from Georgiana herself. “‘Georgiana,’ said he, ‘has it ever occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?’” (Hawthorne 212). Then Georgiana reveals her view of the birthmark “To tell you the truth, it has been …show more content…

Alymer’s perception of the symbolism of the birthmark is revealed right after Georgiana’s thoughts were given. “You came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature, that this slightest possible defect, which we hesitate whether to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection” (Hawthorne 212). Aylmer thought that the birthmark symbolized the imperfection of earthly things. His view was elaborated on later in the story “selecting it as the symbol of his wife’s liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death” (Hawthorne 213). In addition to Aylmer’s view of the birthmark as a mark of earthly imperfection, he also thought of it as a symbol for his wife’s inevitable fall from near perfection as she ages. The reason for Georgiana’s view was explained when the narrator began describing the birthmark’s resemblance to a hand and her lovers’ perception of it “Georgiana’s lovers were wont to say that some fairy at her birth-hour had laid her tiny hand upon the infant’s cheek, and left this impress there in token of the magic endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts” (Hawthorne 213). The attitude of reverence that Georgiana’s lovers took toward her birthmark influenced her into believing that it was a charm. It turns out that her lovers weren’t that far from the truth as revealed at the end of the story. Aylmer finally achieved his goal of removing his wife’s

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