The Theme Of Symbolism In Hawthorne's The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The Romantic Era of literature produced some of the most well known American authors and short stories today, most especially including The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Extending from the mid to late nineteenth century, a great number of essayists, dramatists, authors, and impressionists contributed to the overall advancement of literature as a whole before leading up to the Transcendental movement that Hawthorne chose to break apart from. The division from popular literary movements that Hawthorne underwent stemmed from the isolated and mysteriously dark life that he led leading up to the publication of The Birthmark. The authorship of this short story emulates an obscure, gloomy form of literature that became custom for Hawthorne around 1847 when he published such a controversial masterpiece. The lively and bright pieces of fiction that were published around this time did not appeal to Hawthorne, but instead, a more twisted and gruesome plot concerning the struggle for human beauty better portrayed his traditional writing style. Physical beauty and the unmoral evil that imperfection calls upon is represented through the protagonists wife Georgiana. The themes of sin and morality fit within the tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s isolated lifestyle, the dark form of romanticism that depicts humans as naturally evil, and elements of fiction centered around human imperfection. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s isolated and lonely early life reflect the tradition of his short stories, and help to further develop the theme of sin and morality in The Birthmark. A natural philosopher named Aylmer, fixated on science and alchemy, temporarily halts his addiction to experimentation and marries a young woman named Georgiana. Shortly after being ... ... middle of paper ... ... wrote The Birthmark to fit well within the tradition of his writing. Aylmer’s obsession with the birthmark on his wife’s cheek leads to her immanent death by developing the themes of sin and morality. Hawthorne illustrates a dark form of Romanticism through which humans are depicted as naturally evil. Elements of fiction assist in identifying the similarities between Hawthorne’s life and Aylmer’s fixation on altering the beauty of his wife. Symbols such as the colors red and white, a hand shaped birthmark, and a withering perfect plant are all elements of fiction that appoint sin and morality as the underlying themes in mankind’s lust for perfection. Before Georgiana dies, she instructs Aylmer not to repent, hence one final unmoral concluding request. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s narration employs Aylmer to understand one last lesson of science: Perfection is impossible.
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