Unattainable Beauty In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark

1077 words - 4 pages

In today’s society, it seems that we cannot turn the television on or look in a
magazine without being bombarded by images of seemingly flawless, incredible looking
women. Women today are held to such unattainable standards of beauty, which leads
to self-esteem and confidence issues. These standards have caused women to
overlook the beauty that God has created in them and find their solace in science. We
have make-up to cover our faces with, Botox and collagen injections to make us look
younger and plumper in just the right places, and the ultimate “gift”: plastic surgery.
Women seem not to care what the consequences are, just as long as their goal of
perfection is achieved. But can a person ever really be physically perfect? The great
19th century writer, Nathaniel Hawthorne, was writing about feminine beauty and the
lengths man will go to in order to achieve that physical perfection long before the era of
“America’s Next Top Model” and “Nip/Tuck”. Hawthorne’s classic tale “The Birth-mark”
seems to caution against “perfecting” nature’s beauty through the use of science.

“The Birthmark” introduces us to a fervent scientist, Aylmer, who marries a
beautiful young woman, Georgiana. Try as he might, Aylmer cannot keep his passions
for both his wife and his science apart for long: “His love for his wife might prove the
stronger of the two; but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and
uniting the strength of the latter to its own” (1321). In an effort to combine his two loves
in life, Aylmer finds a “flaw” upon his beautiful wife that he is sure can be removed
through the use of science. The “flaw”, which quickly becomes repulsive to Aylmer, can
be described as “…a singular mark, deeply interwoven, as it were, with the texture and

substance of her face”, “Its shape bore not a little similarity to the human hand, though
of the smallest pigmy size” (1321).

Unable to look past the slight imperfection upon his wife’s face, Aylmer projects
his disgusts upon his wife. He cannot gaze upon Georgiana and simply enjoy her
natural beauty without automatically turning to gape at the mark, which he finds to be “a
frightful object” (1322). Times that the couple should have been enjoying together turn
into awkward stares and hurt feelings. Georgiana soon “learned to shudder at his gaze”

The birth-mark had never been a burden to Georgiana and many found her to be
quite beautiful despite it. It is said that “many a desperate swain would have risked life
for the privilege of pressing his lips to the mysterious hand” (1321). Even with the
knowledge that she is a beautiful woman, Georgiana is eventually broken down
mentally by her husband’s disgust and wants desperately for him to find her beautiful
and flawless. In an effort to conform to Aylmer’s vision of beauty, Georgiana grants him
permission to go back to his first love, science, and find a...

Find Another Essay On Unattainable Beauty in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark

"Disorders in Hawthorne's The Birthmark." Essay

1011 words - 4 pages In Nathaniel Hawthorne's story "The Birthmark" you find a couple fairly prevalent disorders. Although psychology was as of yet not existence, Hawthorne describes them quite well. Alymer suffered from an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, while his actions caused Georgiana to develop a body dysmorphic disorder. Both of which attributed to the eventual demise of Georgiana.Alymer is an older scientist who marries a beautiful woman much

Beauty and the Unattainable Essay

959 words - 4 pages it's only use is as and means to an end, an unattainable end. In Schiller's aesthetic philosophy, human nature consists of two states of being: that which is constant, and that which changes. The human self is constant and it's determining Condition is that which changes. The self and its Condition is distinct in finite being, but are unified in an Ideal Being. Schiller asserts that beauty is an aesthetic unity of thought and feeling, of reason

Evil in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”

654 words - 3 pages What seems to be a simple tale of human error at first, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark”, implies a much deeper and darker note upon closer inspection. A relatively short story, it details an event in the lives of Aylmer and Georgiana, a recent wedded couple. Georgiana possesses a birthmark on her cheek that repulses Aylmer more and more as time goes on. When he confronts her about it, she voices that it is a part of her charm

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

1189 words - 5 pages First Paper - The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne As human beings, we are NOT perfect! It is part of our nature to be flawed one way or another. But there are some who choose to believe the opposing view. The theme of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "The Birthmark" is how humans fight forcefully against Nature for perfection. It is those humans who, eventually, learn that Nature cannot be changed or revised. Aylmer was a famous

Aylmer's Struggle for Perfection in Nathaniel Hawthome's, The Birthmark

2052 words - 8 pages Aylmer's Struggle for Perfection in Nathaniel Hawthome's, The Birthmark Aylmer's struggle for scientific perfection transcends human possibility in Nathaniel Hawthome's "The Birthmark." He attempts to perfect that which nature rendered imperfect. When the quest for human achievement opposes divine design it has no chance of succeeding. This key element in Aylmer's twisted love leads to the demise of what he seeks so desperately to perfect

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

994 words - 4 pages The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "The Birthmark," there are many views on the need for science and its advances. Hawthorne's protagonist, Aylmer, illustrates his own personal assessment of science. The story is based on the idea that science can solve all of humanities ills and problems. Hawthorne believes that science is overrunning life. Aylmer is consumed by his passion of overtake Mother

The Birthmark By Nathaniel Hawthoorne

858 words - 3 pages . In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short fiction, "The Birthmark", Aylmer views science as the most important thing in his life. Because of this, he loses sight on what is really important to him, and it is this love for science that destroys it. Aylmer was a scientist who had a beautiful wife. He had, unfortunately, "devoted himself too unreservedly to scientific studies ever to be weaned from them by any second passion. His love for his

The symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Letter "A".

1585 words - 6 pages The Scarlet Letter: Symbolism of the Nathaniel Hawthorne's letter "A"The Scarlet Letter includes many profound and important symbols. In "The Scarlet Letter" Nathaniel Hawthorne creates the symbolism of the letter "A" to have different meanings. The "A" is the best example of the symbolism used because of the changes in the meaning throughout the novel. In the beginning of the novel, the scarlet letter "A" is viewed as a symbol of sin. The

The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

1284 words - 5 pages What extent should science go to in order to “improve” people’s looks? In the short story, “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the birthmark symbolizes morality that every living thing is flawed in some way and perfection can’t be found on earth. Though this is true, people have the right to seek perfection, and what happens after they think they attain it, is their business. The character Aylmer is a scientist, and his wife Georgiana has a

Sin in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

2142 words - 9 pages      Nathaniel Hawthorne's bold novel, The Scarlet Letter, revolves around sin and punishment.  The main characters of the novel sharply contrast each other in the way they react to the sin that has been committed             Dimmesdale's instantaneous response to the sin is to lie.  He stands before Hester and the rest of the town and proceeds to give a moving speech about how it would be in her and the father's best interest for her to

Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

1065 words - 4 pages Individualism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter Often in society people are criticized, punished and despised for their individual choices and flaws. In the novel, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author uses Hester Prynne to symbolize that those who challenge social conformities can benefit society as a whole. Though she has been banished for committing adultery, she sees that the community needs her. Through her

Similar Essays

"Femenist View Of Alymer" In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark"

1137 words - 5 pages Feminist View of AylmerBy the end of the eighteenth century, science had found its way into the advancement of humankind in the realm of medicine. Men believed they could cure and save all creatures on earth from their flaws and defects. Aylmer in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" is one such character. Aylmer is a scientist who strives for perfection, so much so he believes his newly wed wife, Georgiana, would be the "ideal loveliness" if

Illusion In Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark And Sonny’s Blues, By James Baldwin

935 words - 4 pages controversial short story “The Birthmark” also uses illusion to draw attention to an almost magical setting of mystery and morality. Both of these authors use this theme in their works brilliantly, but in contrasting styles, which on the contrary makes their works masterpieces in distorting the beauty and truth in the world. In the setting of “Sonny’s Blues” the element of illusion is used to create above all a world of beauty, illness and horror

The Sin Of Desire Comparing Nathaniel Hawthorne's Two Stories, "The Birthmark" And "The Scarlet Letter",

743 words - 3 pages Nathaniel Hawthorne's two stories, "The Birthmark" and "The Scarlet Letter", have very similar themes and plots. The two stories were written in the 1800's when Europeans, that practised the Puritan religion, started to move to America. The two stories share similar themes of sin and desire with underlying Puritan values.Aylmer, the devoted scientist in "The Birthmark", marries a beautiful woman with a single physical flaw, a birthmark on her

This Essay Compares And Contrasts The Sin In Nathaniel Hawthorne's Short Stories "The Birthmark," "The Minister's Black Veil," And "Young Goodman Brown."

1035 words - 4 pages believes that sin can often times be so small that it goes unnoticed, yet it impacts the entirety of the sinner's life. Many other similarities, besides the persistent theme of evil and sin, can be observed in Hawthorne's works, yet this theme seems to be perhaps the most common and most apparent topic throughout his writings.Bibliography:Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Birthmark." The American Tradition in Literature. Ed. George and Barbara Perkins. New