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Nathanial Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" Essay

705 words - 3 pages

People are obsessed with making everything perfect. Nathanial Hawthorne seemed to think that the imperfections created by God should not be “fixed” by the will of man. In “The Birthmark”, he conveys this view through symbolism, imagery, and characterization.
Symbolism is scattered throughout the work. The most obvious is the shape that the birthmark is in: a hand. It is meant to represent the hand that God has in every formation of beauty, imperfections included. Because of this connection to God, it is supposed to be accepted and seen as beautiful. However, Aylmer cannot see the beauty underneath. There are also the speaking of the freckles and the ability of the solution to “be washed ...view middle of the document...

The descriptions of the two rooms allowed for the reader to associate Georgiana with Heaven and Aylmer with the cold, analytical mind of those with higher intelligence. Another image that stands out is Aylmer’s dream. He describes his dream where he continues to push the knife deeper, and, as the knife goes deeper, the “Hand” does too. Finally, it “catch[es] hold of Gerogiana’s heart” (217). This image also serves as foreshadowing for the conclusion. Even in his dreams, Aylmer ultimately kills his wife because of his drive to get the birthmark from her face.
Characterization is probably Hawthorne’s most abundantly clear tool to out the imperfections of the human mentality. Georgiana represents natural beauty encompassed in a human body, which is inherently imperfect. She is seen as someone who is loving and caring, and always one to put others before herself. In short Georgiana is religion, or, at least, how religious people are supposed to be. Aylmer is the person that intelligence just rolls off of him. He is described as “slender”, “pale”, and seemingly with a “spiritual...

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