Importance Of Conflict Of Head And Heart In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark

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Rough draft “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” Nelson Mandela’s quote describes the importance of having a stable balance of head and heart. In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story, “The Birthmark’’ the conflict of head and heart is certainly present. Head represents intellect and reason, while heart represents emotion and love. “The Birthmark” describes a scientist’s struggle to control what cannot be controlled as well as his struggle to achieve the impossibility of human perfection. The scientist, Aylmer, is an intellect dominated character who attempts to understand everything. In doing so he becomes imbalanced, which results in the death of his wife, who represents heart. Her death indicates the importance…show more content…
Aylmer’s past failed experiments and his intellectual pride indicate the superiority of head to heart in the Birthmark. As Georgiana awakes from fainting, Aylmer attempts to soothe and distract her with a series of experiments. He shows her an experiment involving a rapidly growing flower and offers her to pick and smell the young flower, which is succeeded by this scene, “…Georgiana had no sooner touched the flower than the whole plant suffered a blight, its leaves turning coal-black as if by agency of fire” (470). This scene is symbolic because the flower represents Georgiana’s life, which is evident because the flower is described as “a perfect and lovely flower” (470); similarly, Georgiana is described as “so nearly perfect” (466). As soon as she touches the flower, it turns black and dies. This experiment foreshadows the death of Georgiana because Aylmer attempts to combine humanity and perfection or head and heart but cannot. After the failure of Aylmer’s first experiment, he attempts to conduct a second, which involves light and a metal plate to create a portrait. He conducts the
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