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Aylmer Vs. Nature Essay

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The allegorical subjects, Science and Nature, are rivaled against each other amongst the multitude of themes in “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. These contrasting concepts represent themselves through the characters Aylmer, Georgiana, and Aminadab who are influenced by the enigmatic symbol of the birthmark in which they aim for its extermination.
The male protagonist, Aylmer, is a man of science. His role in the realm of scientific spirituality is aspiring towards what is naturally impossible: the removal of the birthmark. Even though the birthmark may vanish superficially, the obstacle in its eradication is the symbol Aylmer foreshadows as “sin, sorrow, decay and death,”(Hawthorne) nestled within the soul Nature supplies. These attributes Aylmer classifies toward the birthmark are reflected upon himself. He commits the sins of Greed and Wrath through his excessive lust to control nature and his irrepressible hatred against the birthmark.
In continuation of this, his desire in the conquest over nature is demonstrated through the selection of his books and his past science experiments he shows Georgiana in the boudoir. For example, in his possession are various miracle concoctions like the cosmetic that permanently removes freckles or the Elixir of Immortality, Aylmer claims, can kill any accepting individual with a trivial measurement. “It is the most precious poison that ever was concocted in this world. By its aid, I could apportion the lifetime of any mortal at whom you might point your finger.” (Hawthorne)

Artfully, he names it the Elixir of Immortality when instead it brings mortality to an end. With only his knowledge of what the lethal amounts are, he withholds power over any person of wealth o...


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..., I’d never part with that birthmark.” signifying Aminadab’s awareness of the value that will be lost if the symbol were to be removed. Humans are perfect from creation are born with flaws that foreshadow their finite existence. It is established that what is completely perfect cannot exist in the mortal realm.


Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birth-mark.” Mosses From an Old Manse.Web. July 2011.
Rucker, Mary. “Science and Art in Hawthorne’s ‘The Birth-mark’.”Ninteenth Century Literature.
University of California Press, 1987. p.446. JSTOR Web. July 2011.
Thompson, W.R. “Aminadab in Hawthorne’s ‘The Birthmark’.” Modern Language Notes. The John
Hopkins University Press/JSTOR, 1955. p.413-415. JSTOR. Web. July 2011.
“Vascular Birthmarks”. Health A-to-Z. President and Fellows of Harvard College. 2007. Health and
Wellness Resource Center. Web. July 2011.


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