An analysis of the short story the birthmark by nathaniel hawthorne

Plot summary[ edit ] Aylmer is a brilliant and recognized scientist and philosopher who has dropped his focus from his career and experiments to marry the beautiful Georgiana who is physically perfect except for a small red birthmark in the shape of a hand on her cheek. He does not remember this dream until Georgiana asks about what his sleep-talking meant. The following day, Aylmer deliberates upon and then decides to take Georgiana to the apartments where he keeps a laboratory. When she awakens, he treats her warmly and comforts her with some of his scientific concoctions but when he attempts to take a portrait of her, the image is blurred save for her birthmark revealing the disgust he has of it.

An analysis of the short story the birthmark by nathaniel hawthorne

A fine example of Hawthorne's contribution to the genre of Dark Romanticism. It was published inseven years before John Collier, The Laboratory, John Collier, The Laboratory, In the latter part of the last century there lived a man of science, an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy, who not long before our story opens had made experience of a spiritual affinity more attractive than any chemical one.

He had left his laboratory to the care of an assistant, cleared his fine countenance from the furnace smoke, washed the stain of acids from his fingers, and persuaded a beautiful woman to become his wife. In those days when the comparatively recent discovery of electricity and other kindred mysteries of Nature seemed to open paths into the region of miracle, it was not unusual for the love of science to rival the love of woman in its depth and absorbing energy.

The higher intellect, the imagination, the spirit, and even the heart might all find their congenial aliment in pursuits which, as some of their ardent votaries believed, would ascend from one step of powerful intelligence to another, until the philosopher should lay his hand on the secret of creative force and perhaps make new worlds for himself.

We know not whether Aylmer possessed this degree of faith in man's ultimate control over Nature. He had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any second passion.

An analysis of the short story the birthmark by nathaniel hawthorne

His love for his young wife might prove the stronger of the two; but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and uniting the strength of the latter to his own.

Such a union accordingly took place, and was attended with truly remarkable consequences and a deeply impressive moral. One day, very soon after their marriage, Aylmer sat gazing at his wife with a trouble in his countenance that grew stronger until he spoke.

No, dearest Georgiana, you came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature that this slightest possible defect, which we hesitate whether to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection.

You cannot love what shocks you! In the usual state of her complexiona healthy though delicate bloomthe mark wore a tint of deeper crimson, which imperfectly defined its shape amid the surrounding rosiness. When she blushed it gradually became more indistinct, and finally vanished amid the triumphant rush of blood that bathed the whole cheek with its brilliant glow.

But if any shifting motion caused her to turn pale there was the mark again, a crimson stain upon the snow, in what Aylmer sometimes deemed an almost fearful distinctness. Its shape bore not a little similarity to the human hand, though of the smallest pygmy size. Georgiana's lovers were wont to say that some fairy at her birth hour had laid her tiny hand upon the infant's cheek, and left this impress there in token of the magic endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts.

Many a desperate swain would have risked life for the privilege of pressing his lips to the mysterious hand. It must not be concealed, however, that the impression wrought by this fairy sign manual varied exceedingly, according to the difference of temperament in the beholders.

Some fastidious personsbut they were exclusively of her own sexaffirmed that the bloody hand, as they chose to call it, quite destroyed the effect of Georgiana's beauty, and rendered her countenance even hideous.

But it would be as reasonable to say that one of those small blue stains which sometimes occur in the purest statuary marble would convert the Eve of Powers to a monster. Masculine observers, if the birthmark did not heighten their admiration, contented themselves with wishing it away, that the world might possess one living specimen of ideal loveliness without the semblance of a flaw.

After his marriage,for he thought little or nothing of the matter before,Aylmer discovered that this was the case with himself.

An analysis of the short story the birthmark by nathaniel hawthorne

Had she been less beautiful,if Envy's self could have found aught else to sneer at,he might have felt his affection heightened by the prettiness of this mimic hand, now vaguely portrayed, now lost, now stealing forth again and glimmering to and fro with every pulse of emotion that throbbed within her heart; but seeing her otherwise so perfect, he found this one defect grow more and more intolerable with every moment of their united lives.

It was the fatal flaw of humanity which Nature, in one shape or another, stamps ineffaceably on all her productions, either to imply that they are temporary and finite, or that their perfection must be wrought by toil and pain. The crimson hand expressed the ineludible gripe in which mortality clutches the highest and purest of earthly mould, degrading them into kindred with the lowest, and even with the very brutes, like whom their visible frames return to dust.

In this manner, selecting it as the symbol of his wife's liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death, Aylmer's sombre imagination was not long in rendering the birthmark a frightful object, causing him more trouble and horror than ever Georgiana's beauty, whether of soul or sense, had given him delight.

At all the seasons which should have been their happiest, he invariably and without intending it, nay, in spite of a purpose to the contrary, reverted to this one disastrous topic.

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Trifling as it at first appeared, it so connected itself with innumerable trains of thought and modes of feeling that it became the central point of all.

With the morning twilight Aylmer opened his eyes upon his wife's face and recognized the symbol of imperfection; and when they sat together at the evening hearth his eyes wandered stealthily to her cheek, and beheld, flickering with the blaze of the wood fire, the spectral hand that wrote mortality where he would fain have worshipped.

Georgiana soon learned to shudder at his gaze. It needed but a glance with the peculiar expression that his face often wore to change the roses of her cheek into a deathlike paleness, amid which the crimson hand was brought strongly out, like a bass-relief of ruby on the whitest marble.

Late one night when the lights were growing dim, so as hardly to betray the stain on the poor wife's cheek, she herself, for the first time, voluntarily took up the subject.

I wonder that you can forget it.

From the SparkNotes Blog

Is it possible to forget this one expression? Aylmer now remembered his dream. He had fancied himself with his servant Aminadab, attempting an operation for the removal of the birthmark; but the deeper went the knife, the deeper sank the hand, until at length its tiny grasp appeared to have caught hold of Georgiana's heart; whence, however, her husband was inexorably resolved to cut or wrench it away.

When the dream had shaped itself perfectly in his memory, Aylmer sat in his wife's presence with a guilty feeling. Truth often finds its way to the mind close muffled in robes of sleep, and then speaks with uncompromising directness of matters in regard to which we practise an unconscious self-deception during our waking moments.

Until now he had not been aware of the tyrannizing influence acquired by one idea over his mind, and of the lengths which he might find in his heart to go for the sake of giving himself peace. Perhaps its removal may cause cureless deformity; or it may be the stain goes as deep as life itself.

Danger is nothing to me; for life, while this hateful mark makes me the object of your horror and disgust,life is a burden which I would fling down with joy. Either remove this dreadful hand, or take my wretched life!A summary of Symbols in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark.

Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Birthmark and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and quizzes, as well as for writing lesson plans. Literature Study Guides for all your favorite books!

Nathaniel Hawthorne : An Overview of the Author and Thematic Analysis of Works

Get chapter summaries, in-depth analysis, and visual learning guides for hundreds of English Literary Classics. Get an answer for 'Compare Hawthorne's use of symbol in "The Ministers Black Veil" and "The Birthmark."' and find homework help for other Nathaniel Hawthorne questions at eNotes.

This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Published in , “The Birthmark” is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne that examines the foolishness of striving for perfection.

Theme of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Parable the “Minister’s Black Veil” - In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s parable the “Minister’s Black Veil” his theme of the story is that nobody can escape a sin.

Before the birthmark even comes into play, we get the classic set-up: a little background information on our characters, and a subtle introduction of the story's themes (like science, Nature, discovery, knowledge, ambition).

The Birthmark Thesis Statements and Important Quotes | caninariojana.com