Essay on The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essay on The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Man has always had a desire to obtain knowledge in order to improve his standard of living, and society as a whole. It has allowed the development of glorious civilizations and the discovery of tools that allow us to survive efficiently. Without the attainment of knowledge, man would still be in a primitive state. Accessing it comes with the responsibility to not surpass our limits, which can lead us to lose our humanity and become unnatural. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” depicts the tale of a scientist, Aylmer, whose life revolves around his scientific inquiries. His scientific obsession is placed on hiatus and is substituted with his union of a beautiful woman, Georgina. Aylmer’s love for science and his wife are in constant battle, in which science prevails. Science triumphs over the love for Georgina, leading to her untimely death because of Aylmer’s compulsive nature to achieve perfection. This desire for knowledge and flawlessness are proven dangerous in trying to surpass nature, and lead to irreversible effects such as Aylmer 's countless failures. Hawthorne argues the loss of humanity and the dangers found within the acquirement of knowledge through the characterization of Aylmer.
The lack of human aspects in Aylmer plays an integral part in the development of the plot. He is illustrated as a man “of science, an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy”(1021) and as an individual who “devoted, himself, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any second passion ”(1021). Hawthorne detracts from providing any background on Aylmer, in order for the reader not to relate or sympathize with him. This character is merely used as device to represent the author’s message. The vag...


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...e strength and an earthly physique. There is a stark contrast between Aylmer and Aminadab’s belief on what to do with the birthmark. Aminadab, states “If she were my wife, I’d never part with that birthmark” (1025) showing us how nature is meant to have imperfections within it, while Aylmer believes it is best to rid his wife of such a monstrosity that taints her near perfect beauty.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” demonstrates the dangers that lurk when seeking knowledge beyond human capabilities, through the characterization of Aylmer. The quest to excel beyond nature is often met with drastic repercussions. One must acknowledge that this path can possibly lead to the destruction of those we love dearly and ourselves. Caution must be taken with the methods and subjects that we explore, for we are incapable of surpass Mother Nature’s mysterious way of order.

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