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Birthmark - Essay Example

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18 September 2012. The Birthmark: This essay is primarily based on contemplating the widely acclaimed romantic short story called The Birthmark in critical terms. This enjoyable literary piece introduced in 1843 by Nathaniel Hawthorn explores the questionable and unjustified obsession with human perfection which sometimes gets big enough to destroy lives…
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Download file to see previous pages... Hawthorn strives to introduce new horizons to the public and gives them a deep understanding of certain intricate issues of life. The message implied by the story is that people who hopelessly try to see perfection in others only torture themselves and their dear ones as their souls are like barren lands which never get satiated no matter how much rain pounds on them. Main themes of the story explore issues like striving for perfection is only foolishness, people cannot become godlike figures to reverse or combat nature, and no clear line could be drawn setting beauty apart from imperfection. It is stressed that it is always the mix of beauty and flaws that creates uniqueness. In this commendable story about the fanatical obsession a husband has with removing a birthmark from his wife’s face so as to achieve perfection, it is identified that human race is riddled with flaws and no one has ever been known to be born with perfection or totally flawless beauty on the face of Earth. The story did not win the appreciation of all critics as it also attracted some controversy when it was suggested that since the author demonstrated how a man could kill his wife in such a facile manner in the process of achieving perfection and then get away with the murder so conveniently if the consequences turn ugly, this story should be assessed as a failure rather than labeling it a success (Fetterley, cited in Frank 164-173). To some extent this claim made by critics could be held true as the story really contains a detailed description of how Aylmer, a scientist and husband of Georgiana, has a dream one night in which the trademark foreshadowing occurs regarding how the birthmark is connected to Georgiana’s heart. The extent to which Aylmer’s offensive obsession is grown by that point could be judged from the fact that he unconsciously decides to cut out his wife’s heart as well if that is what needed to be done to achieve perfection. Georgiana is presented as a doomed character in the story who does anything and is willing to go through an change, even physical, so as to please her husband but to no avail (Wright). The extent to which demure and faithful Georgiana is hell bent on catering to her husband’s needs could be judged from the quote that “with her whole spirit she prayed that, for a single moment, she might satisfy his highest and deepest conception. Longer than one moment she well knew it could not be” (Hawthorne, cited in SparkNotes Editors). This shows how much sadness and grief is instilled in Georgiana’s heart by his emotionally deadpan husband as she longs for just one moment knowing how longer than that she could never be able to satiate Aylmer’s soul as it always remained in search of something new and perfect. The quote that “for his spirit was ever on the march, ever ascending . . . [requiring] something that was beyond the scope of the instant before” (Hawthorne, cited in SparkNotes Editors) underlines this fact. That is why she even allows Aylmer to perform his experiments on her face so that the birthmark which kept her from becoming all perfect could be removed. Aylmer is introduced as a brainy scientist type who is emotionally a deadpan and fixated on seeing perfection around him to achieve which he is willing to cross all boundaries. Intent on achieving perfect ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Aylmer's Hubris in The Birthmark
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