preview

Obsessing About Perfection in The Birthmark

Good Essays
The birthmark is a compelling story of one man’s obsession with his scientific ability to produce perfection. Aylmer, a scientist, is married to a Georgiana who is a very beautiful woman. Not long after getting married Georgiana’s birthmark, which is in the shape of a tiny handprint on her check, really begins to bother Aylmer. He sees it as a flaw in an other wise perfect woman. Georgiana knows that her birthmark disgusts him and, having grown up not bother at all by it, begins to hate it herself. He asks if she has ever considered having it removed. This is not something she has considered since other people in her life, especially men, have always seen it as a “charm”. Aylmer being an amazing scientist almost sees himself as god and feels that he has the power to remove this imperfection. Georgiana, bothered by her husband’s reaction to her birthmark, agrees to let him try to rid her of it. She is taken to his laboratory and he immediately begins to experiment. After she finds Aylmer’s book of experiments, which all end in failure, she for the first time, has some doubt about how this will work and confronts him. He reassures her and begins to try a multitude of methods, with the help of his assistant Aminadab, which do not work. At one point, there are several experiments going on and he even refers to himself as a “sorcerer” (Hawthorne 232). Finally, he produces a potion, which she drinks, and the birthmark begins to disappear! Slowly though, even as the experiment is working, Georgiana is fading away. He finds that ultimately, the birthmark was connected to her very soul and in his trying to act god like he actually kills her. Really this short story just proves that science has its limits and no man should try to act like G...

... middle of paper ...

...in his trying to act god like he actually kills her. The Birthmark is a story of how one man can think a little too highly of himself when he tries to change what is not meant to be changed.

Works Cited

1) Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Birthmark." Literature and the Writing Process. compiled. Elizabeth McMahan, Susan X Day, Rober Funk, Linda Coleman. Boston: Longman, 2011. Print.

2) "NameMeanings." Name-Meanings.com. N.p., 2004. Web. 26 Mar 2011. http://www.name-meanings.com/.

3) Hall, Michael. "Generation Cobweb." Review of The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne. N.p., 12-29-2011. Web. 27 Mar 2011. .

4) "shmoop." The Birthmark The Birthmark Summary. N.p., 2011. Web. 27 Mar 2011. http://www.shmoop.com/birthmark/detailed-summary.html.

5) "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." The Birth-Mark. N.p., 03-06-2011. Web. 27 Mar 2011.
Get Access