The Birthmark Themes and Symbols
By rebeccaray, Updated
The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne Theme Analysis
Throughout the story, the theme of imperfection is implied in multiple ways. First, imperfection is suggested with Georgiana’s birthmark, then later with Aylmer’s journal entries about his not-so-perfect experiments. Finally, in the end when Georgiana dies as a result of the quest for perfection, it is found that there is no such thing.
THEMES and SYMBOLS
Within literature a universal theme is man's pursuit for scientific advancement and knowledge and its effects. In the story of “The Birthmark,” Aylmer's quest to rid his wife of her imperfection through science shows the reader how naive and narrow-minded man can be. Just because someone has the power or knowledge to do something doesn’t always mean it should be done.
The birthmark is a symbol of man’s imperfection or flaw which also symbolizes man’s mortality. Looking at the story from a Puritan perspective, the birthmark could be an allegorical symbol relating to man’s fall from Eden. The allusion is that Alymer looks at Georgian as being almost perfect, without the birthmark she would be the epitome of Godly perfection. From the Christian perspective, all men are made in the image of God; however, after Adam and Eve’s fall from grace, man was inevitably flawed. The birthmark is a concrete symbol of this flaw.
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