Symbolism In Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Birthmark'

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Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the most important American writers of the romantic era. As part of this influential movement, he contrasted human intellect and nature's forces. In Nathaniel’s short story, “The Birthmark”, the author uses a birthmark and scientific power to symbolize man’s ambition of changing nature’s perfection. He implies that the birthmark on Georgiana's cheek represents Human’s natural flaw while Aylmer’s scientific knowledge represents the envy of pursuing perfection. Once married, Aylmer discovered Georgiana’s natural flaw and becomes obsessed with removing her birthmark in attempt to achieve the perfection implied by the author into the theme. Here, the symbolism is represented as Georgiana’s birthmark which stands for…show more content…
Nathaniel Hawthorne presents Aylmer with an ambition of the power of science, and implies that Alymer is envious of the power her birthmark represented. Multiple meanings of the birthmark are implied. One example; “The mark which is a hand resembles a tool of useful work” (Eckstein). Here, it is implied that Aylmer feels oppressed by the powerful significance of her mark. He is the man of the house, but the mark shows a sign of power and intellect in her that Aylmer fears is greater than his. With his scientific power, he wanted to lay his hand on the ultimate force to control nature. One review writes; “If Aylmer could eliminate his wife's crimson mark of creation, then he would be the only one in the family with creative powers” (Eckstein). Georgiana further influences his desire when she taunts his scientific abilities which is reviewed as; ”Challenges Aylmer's masculinity and his power in science” (Jeffery). Another reason Aylmer may have wanted to remove Georgiana's mark was because he feared that she might leave him, since she was exceptionally beautiful and young. He became obsessed with the desire to change her natural facial features. His moral as a scientist consisted in changing nature by using knowledge and scientific power. Aylmer influenced Georgiana to follow through with his plan to remove the birthmark that disgusted him so much. One writer interpreted this as; “The Birthmark” provides a brilliant analysis of the sexual politics of idealization and a brilliant exposure of the mechanisms whereby hatred can be disguised as love, neurosis can be disguised as science, murder can be disguised as idealization and success can be disguised as failure” (Resetarits). This leads on to how Humans have different perspectives of perfection, symbolised by the
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