Human Imperfection Illustrated in Hawthorne's The Birthmark Essay example

Human Imperfection Illustrated in Hawthorne's The Birthmark Essay example

Length: 900 words (2.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

It is hard to say that one is human and perfect at the same time. Human beings are not capable of achieving perfection; if that would be so, humans would stop being humans. By nature the human race is full of flaws, some appearing as early as in the womb. From defects in the body, to defects in the mind, to the mistakes that one makes in quotidian life, it is impossible to deny that human imperfection exists. To try to manipulate humans into perfection is not only impossible, but it takes away the very essence of being a human being. The short story “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorn, illustrates this teaching through the character of Aylmer, an ambitious and devoted scientist who is appalled by his wife Georgiana’s birthmark, believing it to be a perceivable sign of her human flaws and eagerly waits to remove it from her cheek. This story raises riveting questions such as, what is humanity all about, can human beings ever achieve perfection through science, is Hawthorn attacking science or a wider issue, and more significantly, should science take the place of God. Through the use of symbolism in “The Birthmark”, Hawthorn indirectly implies that imperfection is an essential part of being human and that science should not interfere; thus he is hinting his personal views toward science and its limitations over nature.

To understand the message of “The Birthmark”, we must first understand the events and circumstances that took place in Hawthorn’s time period which most likely prompted him to write this short story. Nathaniel Hawthorn was a 19th century novelist who is perhaps best known for writing The Scarlet Letter. In Hawthorn’s time, a new belief system called positivism was on the rise. Positivism exalted science. This ne...


... middle of paper ...


...ection. By removing the birthmark from Georgiana’s face, Aylmer has taken away her humanity thus leading Georgiana to her death. Georgiana cannot live anymore because she is no longer a human being. Therefore claiming that science has its limits over nature and if those limits are crossed the consequences could be fatal.

It would be no surprise if the uprising of positivism in Hawthorne’s time influenced him to write this story. The reader must keep in mind that Hawthorne wrote this story in a time where many perhaps frowned upon scientific research. If he would have written the story in this current time period, it might have been written differently. “The Birthmark” attacks science in a way by presenting it as an unstoppable force determined to find a solution and perfection to everything. Science cannot completely perfect nature but it can try to improve it.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne

- 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....   [tags: Scientific method, Nature, Nathaniel Hawthorne]

Better Essays
1215 words (3.5 pages)

Imperfections in The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Imperfections in The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne Too often in this world does man attempt to perfect nature. Tampering with this sort of element most commonly leads to a disaster to come extent. Because man is never satisfied, he is constantly vying for perfection, regardless of the outcome. Such is the case in Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, 'The Birthmark.' Aylmer's persistent attempt to perfect nature is the cause of Georgiana's demise and the affirmation that when man tampers with such a powerful component terrible things may occur....   [tags: The Birthmark Nathaniel Hawthorne Essays]

Better Essays
884 words (2.5 pages)

Human Imperfection Illustrated in Frost's Poem, After Apple Picking Essay

- The poem “After Apple Picking” by Robert Frost expresses the feelings of the narrator during and after the process of harvesting apples by showing the sustainability and ambition of human spirit. Frost’s poem is an accurate reflection of life and of human imperfection through the use of repetition, literal and figurative language and various symbols. The repeated use of the word “sleep” resonates throughout the poem and suggests that the narrator is experiencing fatigue and weariness, “I am drowsing off / I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight / Upon my way to sleep before it fell / My instep arch not only keeps the ache / [Woodchuck]’s sleep” (Frost 8-21) One interpretation of sleep is...   [tags: Poetry Analysis, poem analysis]

Better Essays
509 words (1.5 pages)

Tragedy in The Birthmarkby Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In 1843, “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne was first published in a minor literary journal. It is a dark tale of an eighteenth century scientist’s obsession with a small, hand shaped birthmark on his wife’s face. Although, the mark did not bother him before their marriage, it becomes such an obsession for him and he can not think of anything but it’s removal from her otherwise perfect face. This imperfection and the incurable nature of mortality become the central idea in this story. In The Birthmark,” Hawthorne uses the fictional element of conflict to convey a pervading sense of torment and tragedy in this short story....   [tags: Obsession, Women, Imperfection]

Better Essays
913 words (2.6 pages)

Essay about Ethics: The Human Imperfection of Greed

- An ongoing problem in the United States and other countries are issues dealing with ethics. Many philosophers throughout the centuries have created works and theories on ethics, among them Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Ethics may generally be defined as the study of morality (Cohen, p. 17). Aristotle on Nicomachean Ethics said Virtue… being of two kinds, intellectual and moral, intellectual virtue in the main owes both its birth and its growth to teaching (for which reason it requires experience and time), while moral virtue comes about as a result of habit....   [tags: Kanatian Ethics, United States]

Better Essays
837 words (2.4 pages)

The Imperfection Of Being Human Essay

- Uma Kocherlakota Mrs. Cristen Cassler AP English Literature and Composition 16 September 2015 The Imperfection of Being Human There is only one thing which every philosopher who speculates about the human condition can agree on, and that is the idea that humans are complex, imperfect beings who may not always understand themselves. F. Scott Fitzgerald, in his novel The Great Gatsby, attempts to reveal this idea about human character by fashioning the narrator, Nick Carraway, into a complex character....   [tags: F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby]

Better Essays
1141 words (3.3 pages)

Commentary on The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- The things in life he didn’t understand fascinated Nathaniel Hawthorne. He wrote a few stories in a literary journal called The Pioneer, one of them being “The Birthmark”. Time significantly influenced Hawthorne in creating this short story (Wheeler). Aylmer, the main character, uses the scientific experimentation throughout the story to remove the birthmark from his wife’s, Georgiana, face which results in him killing her. “The Birthmark” has attempting for perfection, the battle between science and nature, and the earthly love....   [tags: Imperfections, Scar, Marriage]

Better Essays
754 words (2.2 pages)

The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- In Nathaniel’s Hawthorns short story “The Birthmark”, shows the lust for perfection and the need to create a perfect being. Hawthorne creates this message through the story of a scientist by the name of Aylmer who put down his test tube to pursue love. He meets the love of his life Georgiana, but she has one flaw. Upon her left cheek rests a blush red birthmark resembling that of a small human hand. Aylmer becomes obsessed with removing it and making her perfect, by using his science. Throughout the Reading of “The Birthmark”, Hawthorne uses symbolism to create deep imagery to illustrate the imperfections of being human because that’s what makes us who we are....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Short story, Sin, Perfection]

Better Essays
733 words (2.1 pages)

The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- ?I have already administered agents powerful enough to do aught except to change your entire physical system. Only one thing remains to be tried. If that fail us we are ruined." (Nathaniel Hawthorne) Out of Nathaniel Hawthorne?s short story ?The Birthmark?, this quote shows the uninterrupted quest to eliminate nature 's flaws through unproven scientific methods, and by doing so, disrupting nature?s divine progression. Hawthorne articulates a story of an eminent chemical scientist, Aylmer, and a wife of great beautify, Georgian, who has a red crimson ?hand-like....   [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Short story, Love, The Flaws]

Better Essays
1449 words (4.1 pages)

Conflict In The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

- Conflict in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne Human nature, while impressively complex, also has various poor qualities. Often these imperfections result in conflicts which are in turn depicted in works of literature. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, set in an old Puritan community, is centered on several conflicts of human nature that result from the adultery and punishment of Hester Prynne. There are three major conflicts each for which Hawthorne created a specific main character to illustrate: Pearl, Hester's illegitimate daughter, depicts the conflict purity versus sin, Roger Chillingworth, Hester's former husband, depicts good versus evil, and Reverend Arthur Dimmesd...   [tags: Hawthorne Scarlet Letter]

Free Essays
1241 words (3.5 pages)