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The Consequences Of Perfection In The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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“The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is a criticism of human’s focus on perfection and the damage it can cause. Georgiana has a birthmark on her cheek that many believe to be one of the many sources of her beauty. But her husband, Aylmer, believes it to be a hideous imperfection. Aylmer, a scientist, believes that he has the cure for something as damaging as a birthmark. After much persistence, he receives permission to attempt to remove Georgiana’s birthmark and has to deal with its inevitable consequences. Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” shows an obsession with perfection and the damage it can have on something as fragile as human life. Aylmer’s beautiful wife is flawed with a single mark on her cheek but is otherwise perfect to him and many other people however, he obsesses over Georgiana’s “crimson hand” (342) to the point that he no longer sees her beauty. An imperfection such as a birthmark upon Georgiana’s cheek “’might be called a charm’” (340) by many people. Aylmer, however, believes that his wife’s birthmark “destroy[s] the effect of [her] beauty” (341). He believes that the imperfection is only seen as such because of the beauty that Georgiana possesses and “had she been less beautiful…he might have felt his affection heightened by the prettiness of this” (341) birthmark, rather he grows more and more repulsed by the birthmark as time goes…show more content…
Without imperfections, there is no reason to live and the consequences following a quest for perfection can have immense consequences. Aylmer learns that perfection is an impossible feat when he attempts to remove his wife’s birthmark and in turn is responsible for her death. His obsession with perfection is the fatal flaw that many people possess and in his case leads to the loss of love and life, a lesson Hawthorne chose to prove within his writing of this
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