The Birthmark


The Birthmark Essay, Research Paper

In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark,” Hawthorne focuses on the single imperfection of Georgina, the bride of Aylmer. Alymer insists that with the removal of the hand shaped birthmark from her cheek, she will be flawless. Aylmer was “a man of science” (qtd. in 100). It would be a challenge for Aylmer to remove this single flaw, but he did, and as the result, Georgina died. Hawthorne’s theme was, “It is not only dangerous to meddle with mysteries beyond human ken, it was fatal to coerce Nature beyond her ordained limits” (100).

The resulting death of Georgina was not a failure of science, but of Aylmer’s misuse of it. Aylmer wanted to overthrow Nature (102). This is where Hawthorne’s distrust of scientists appeared in his short stories. Aylmer believed he was god-like, and these thoughts are what caused him to want to make everything perfect in which nature left flaws (102). The occurrence of human perfection that Aylmer was so desperately seeking did not exist, and any experiments he may try to overpower nature would only result in a curse (103).

Hawthorne writes of scientist and their misuse of their knowledge. No being can be perfect. No human can change the fate of another to make them perfect. This does not exist, and with the removal of the birthmark from Georgina’s cheek, she lost her life. Her life that had that flaw. Her life that was not perfect because if it was, it would not be real. That birthmark is what kept her alive.


Fairbanks, Henry G. The Lasting Loneliness of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Magi, 1965,

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