The Belief in Oneself to Change Nature in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birth-Mark"

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Hawthorne's "The Birth-Mark" deals with the discrepancy between the strength of nature and the strength of science. Hawthorne's protagonist, Alymer, represents the world of science, whereas the strength of nature is represented by the birth-mark on Alymer's wife Georgiana's face. Alymer becomes obsessed with her birth-mark and, using his scientific knowledge, attempts to remove it. In this essay, I will show that Alymer's obsession results from his scientifically influenced way of thinking in categories, and also from his arrogant perfectionism, two character traits which are shown in this excerpt from the text. These character traits interfere with his moral conscientiousness and eventually caquse his downfall at the end of the story.

Alymer contrasts Georgiana's beauty by sense and soul with her "liability to sin"; he juxtaposes her perfection with "this one defect", the birth-mark. In reality, birth-marks and "sorrow, decay" and a "liability to sin" are faults which render us life-like. Alymer cannot accept human faults - for him, people are either the "highest" or the "lowest" - there is nothing in-between. A good example for the harsh contrasts is Alymer himself and his assistent, Aminadab. Alymer is said to represent the purely "spiritual" part, whereas Aminadab is solely "physical."

Alymer's categorial thinking leads to idolize his wife. He refuses to allow her fault, instead, he makes her insecure with his incessant stares and questions regarding the virth-mark. He is a perfectionist and will not rest until his wife is flawless, even it may cost her dearly. He even projects his perfectionism onto Georgiana, who says she will go mad if he does not remove ger birth-mark. This is shown when we read about his dream, in whhich he attempts to remove the birth-mark, and though he has discovered that it connects to Georgianas heart, he persists, even to her certain death.

He is sure that he will "triumph" over nature, and will willingly be "worshipped" by his wife afterwards. He is frustrated when his experiments for Georgiana's amusement fail and angry when she reads his "folio" of experiments. His striving for perfectionism cannot handle the fact that Georgiana now knows that he s not omniscient, but rather that in reaching for "pebbles" of science, which made him famous. He wants to be as flawless as he wants his wife to be. However, in pursuit of perfection, so that his wife should be the "highest and purest of earthly world", his conscience is blinded.
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