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Essay on Spiritual Analysis in The Birthmark Novel

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In Nathanial Hawthorne’s “The Birth-Mark,” Aylmer, a crazed, “mad-scientist,” seeks to remove the scarlet handprint birthmark from his wife, Georgiana’s cheek. From the opening of the work, the third person narrator describes Aylmer’s obsession with science and the adverse effects it has had on his social life. Aylmer is tied up in this battle within himself and with his assigned association between the natural and the spiritual world. He wishes to have as much control over these colliding worlds as possible, granting himself god-like power and control in the process. In the art of manipulating nature through science, Aylmer believes he is able to alter the spiritual aspects of the natural as well. Aylmer’s focus on spirituality is Hawthorne’s way of commenting on mankind’s fixation on sin and redemption.
Following a vivid dream in which Aylmer surgically removes Georgiana’s birthmark, Aylmer assures Georgiana with extreme faith in himself that he can heal their woes by removing the birthmark. The birthmark serves as a symbol for the uncleanliness of the sin that could be in her; not that she has been terribly unrighteous, but the birthmark, like sin, is an imperfection that he wishes to purify. I think the birthmark is a part of Georgiana that Aylmer cannot understand or explain, so he condemns it as sinful. It is possible that Aylmer may feel that what man cannot fathom is not of good nature. The idea that man associates evil with things he does not understand shows the close-mindedness that humans continue to carry through to the next generations through socialization. It could be a defense mechanism that we use to avoid physical or social harm. The shape of the birthmark also adds to its sin-like nature due to the negative co...


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...ne was reared in could have given him this fear of punishment on his female relatives if they did not live up to the moral and social standards of the church; he may have even feared for their lives as he wrote about the fates of women in his two works above that did not live up to the standards of man or the congregation.



Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel.”The Birth-Mark.” The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Kelly J. Mays. 11th ed. New York: Norton, 2013. 340-351. Print.
Huggins, Jason. “Purity Among the Essenes and the Nephelides.” Wabash. Wabash College, n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014
“John 8:34.” Bible: English Standard. N.p., 2001. OpenBible. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
“Matthew 5:30.” Bible: English Standard. N.p., 2001. OpenBible. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.
“Nathaniel Hawthorne – Biography.” The European Graduate School. The European Graduate School, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2014



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