The purpose of this work is based on analyzing the short story "The Birthmark" by Hawthorne. The paper presents the background of the story, the main characters, and the major symbol, the birthmark. The themes that are highlighted include love, obsession, mortality, and nature and science. The main argument is about the conflict between nature and science and the consequences of trying to eliminate the provisions of nature.
Nathaniel writes the short story, "The Birthmark", to communicate about the obsession with love and the conflict between nature and science. In the 18th towards the 19th century, many people became obsessed with science. This time period was known as the Age of Reason, and many authors wrote concerning science, the non-fiction (Sartre and Eric 34). There were a few other authors who wrote about romance; that is, strong emotions, the power of nature, and the supernaturalism. Nathaniel is among the renowned Romantic authors of the 19th century (Worrall 124). In the short story, Nathaniel represented the power of nature and human emotions. He reminds people of the significance of nature and the limit with which science should attain.
The story starts with an introduction of the main characters, Aylmer and Georgiana, who are also newlyweds. Georgiana has a birthmark in the middle of her cheek. Aylmer is a scientist and he is obsessed with removing the birthmark from the face of Georgiana. He claims that it is the birthmark that keeps his wife from being perfect. This aspect introduces the concept of conflict between science and nature (Browner 40). Aylmer believes that science can fix everything, and he is ascertained that through science, he can come up with a concoction to fix Georgiana's face.
The birthmark symbolizes the imperfections in human nature, what people cannot live without lest they are dead. Georgiana is upset regarding the birthmark and especially the fact that her husband feels that she is unattractive because of the mark. This idea besets her owing to the fact that her previous boyfriend commented that the birthmark makes her charming. This shows that what might be imperfect for one in life may be perfect for another person. The difference shows the preferences of different people in the society. Georgiana hints that the birthmark has a connection with her life but Aylmer is quite stubborn to understand, and he keeps complaining about it. He cannot stop thinking about the mark and even dreams and shudders upon seeing it. Basically, the author tries to represent the existing conflict between science and nature, as well as the power of love. The Hawthorne's story records:
"Oh, spare me!" sadly replied his wife. "Pray do not look at it again. I never can forget that convulsive shudder" p.10.Love and obsession with something may control decision making. Aylmer hates the birthmark on her wife's face with hatred of higher magnitude than the love he has to her wife. Georgiana, on the other hand, loves her husband and will not mind the removal of the birthmark from her face if it is what pleases Aylmer, even if this effort will kill her (Fetterley 2). Aylmer ignores all the red-lights regarding the dangers of the experiment he wants to perform on Georgiana because of the obsession against the birthmark and attempt to change nature, purportedly for love. Georgiana agrees to drink the potion that her husband prepares for the removal of the birthmark. The substance works well and removed the birthmark. However, the life of Georgiana fades away with the birthmark. Aylmer succeeds with his science experiment but Georgiana dies.
Hawthorne presents the importance of nature and its ability to create. The hand-like symbol emphasized the power of nature as well as the value of the natural life. The author also wants the readers to understand that nature is not only more powerful than science and men but also when a person tampers with nature; it may lead to bad and regrettable results. The shape of the birthmark is a symbol that represents the power of God or nature over mankind (Hawthorne 153). The power of nature becomes clear at the end of the short story when despite the best potion Aylmer uses, he could not get rid of the birthmark, and still, Georgiana dies in the process of the removal.
Today, the society's ideal represents the situation illustrated in "The Birthmark". People try to perfect everything, both scientific and non-scientific. It is crucial to note that everybody is created differently and perfectly (Tritt and Michael 142). The moral of the story is that no one can change what they were born with, but it is important to accept it. Life is unique and not any law can counter its deed. Science can do inventions, but still, it may never be perfect until the end of time. Hawthorne wants the readers to understand clearly the difference in the law of nature and science, and that each of them should run without interfering with the works of the other.
Aylmer believes that science can fix everything, and he is ascertained that through science, he can come up with a concoction to fix Georgiana's face
Browner, Stephanie P. Profound science and elegant literature: Imagining doctors in nineteenth-century America. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005.Fetterley, Judith. "Women Beware Science:'The Birthmark.'." Details: Critical Essays on Hawthorne's Short Stories. Boston, Mass.: GK Hall & Co., 1991. (1991).
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The birthmark. e-artnow sro, 2015.
Tritt, Shona M., and Michael Tritt. "Chasing Perfection: Death Denial in Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Birthmark.'." PsyArt.(online journal): December 31 (2008).
Worrall, David. Theatric Revolution: Drama, Censorship, and Romantic Period Subcultures 1773-1832. Oxford University Press, 2006.
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