The Absolute Power Of Men In A Patriarchal Society

2507 words - 11 pages

  The time setting of the short story “The Birth-Mark” was the eighteenth century, a quite difficult era for the lives of women. In a journal published by Helga Madland, it was mentioned “Since the Graeco-Roman period, women had been perceived as inferior to males in the social hierarchy;..”(pg167). The low status of women in the society has been a big issue in the eighteenth century as reflected in the story “The Birth-Mark” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In this story, the unevenly distributed power between male and female eventually result in tragedy of women. “The Birth-Mark” by Hawthorne clearly proves that masculine power always dominates.
  Hawthorne started the story by introducing the protagonist Alymer as a “man of science”(290). His prominent creations in the laboratory helped him earn the reputation of a brilliant scientist. He was capable doing many things with his knowledge of science, such as making poisons, bottling magical scents and removing physical flaws on women’s faces. His outstanding accomplishments in the scientific field shaped his authoritative position in the scientific field as a male. His real existence is limited to the science laboratory since most part of the story take place in the lab room. People started making strong connections between Alymer and the power of science due to his achievements in the scientific community. Gradually, Alymer, a representative of other males, became a symbol of science. He, as a man, shows a strong desire to control women through the title of “Scientist”. His ability to change the physical appearance of women is what brings him gratification and confidence. Man is always standing in the supreme position and has the ability to decide the fate of a woman by change the way women look.
  Georgiana, however, represents a woman of the nature. The tiny red palm-like birthmark on her left cheek is given by nature and therefore best represents nature. Many men were fascinated by Georgiana’s birthmark as she asserted at the beginning of the story, “ To tell you the truth, it has been so often called a charm, that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so”(291). People were charmed by this mark because it was totally crafted by the hand of nature. Yet, this sign of beauty given by the nature was denied by her husband Alymer when he states “...dearest Georgiana, you came so nearly perfect from the hand of nature, that this slightest possible defect, which we hesitate to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection”(291). From Alymer’s view, the tiny birthmark on her cheek symbolizes the defected artifact of nature. In the words, he tried to challenge the nature from the aspect of science. By challenging the birthmark which represents the nature beauty of women, he is using the power of science to demonstrate a kind of superiority among women. Similar to the idea author is trying to convey here, men’s power is always in a much higher position...

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