Theme Of Perfection In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark

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The Price of Perfection Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the short story “The Birthmark” in 1843 and it is set at a time when science was an emerging field. Science at that time was unexplainable and mysterious to the common person which lead to it being referred to as magic. One of the themes that is common in Hawthorne's work is the sinful nature and impurity that is at the heart of each person. Hawthorne shows the dilemma of the flawed nature of a person and the ultimate price of perfection that will be paid. Aylmer is consumed with a pursuit of perfection in his scientific studies and also in nature. The leads to Aylmer being appalled at the blemish on his wife Georgiana’s cheek. He tells Georgiana “you came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature, that this slightest possible defect..shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection” (216). This is the catalyst for Aylmer's seeking for perfection in his wife who is a natural being. Aylmer recognizes that there is a “fatal flaw of humanity, which Nature...stamps ineffaceable on all her productions” (216). Aylmer cannot escape the imperfection of his wife and has a dream where he tries to remove the mark, but it is…show more content…
Georgiana “could not but observe that his most splendid successes were almost invariably failures, if compared with the ideal which he aimed” (222). Even Aylmer’s most successful experiments were considered failures because of his desire for perfection. Aylmer is so consumed by perfection, he does not see the accomplishments he has made. Aylmer posses a potion that he deems “the Elixir of Immortality” (221) which he describes as being able to remove freckles but is not strong enough to remove the mark from Georgiana. Aylmer remarks “this is merely superficial. Your case demands a remedy that shall go deeper” (221). This continues to reinforce the flawed nature of
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