Romanticization And Symbolism In The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthorne

Great Essays
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark” follows a husbands desire to have the perfect wife. Following newlyweds, Aylmer and Georgiana, the reader learns of Aylmer’s constant desire to remove a birthmark off his wife’s face. This birthmark draws much attention to Georgiana which Aylmer finds uncomfortable. In striving for perfection, these two characters are willing to risk death. In doing so, the story relies on setting, genre, characterization, symbolism, and foreshadowing to help establish the overall theme: mortality.
“The Birthmark” is set in the late 1700s, a time period when science was blooming and women were seen as inferiors. This was also the start of Romanticism. Romanticism is a time period where many intellectual people
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First, the reader is introduced to Aylmer whose love for science is torn by his love for Georgiana. Throughout this story, the reader sees how Aylmer’s obsession with his wife’s birthmark grows. The more he thinks of it, it encourages him to speak to Georgiana on the removal of it. Although Aylmer seems to be a charming man, his hatred over Georgiana’s birthmark is evident. He states that, “…[Georgiana] came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature that this slightest possible defect, which we hesitate whether to term defect or a beauty shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection” (Hawthorne 334). From what he said, it is clear to the reader that he finds her to be a step away from perfection. He also believes that the mark upon her face is what makes her …show more content…
While in Aylmer’s laboratory, he and Georgiana discuss the elixir and how it works. The fact that they were speaking of prolonging and ending life can hint to her life being at risk. After analyzing the story, Hawthorne adds more foreshadowing. This happens when Georgiana is reading Aylmer’s journals. These journals speak of how dangerous removing her birthmark can be. This is but one other warning that Aylmer and Georgiana face.
Overall, keeping with the theme of mortality, the story ends with the death of Georgiana. The reader is able to see that her birthmark was a symbol of her humanity. Also, the reader is able to uncover Hawthorne’s intention that science has its limitations. This story can also show that changing what nature has chosen, comes with a price. Hawthorne uses setting, genre, characterization, symbolism, and foreshadowing to show the progression of Aylmer and Georgiana and the risks they take in order to gain complete

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