"The Birthmark" Themes and Symbols

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for The Birthmark


The Birthmark Themes and Symbols

Example



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Activity Overview


Themes, symbols, and motifs come alive when you use a storyboard. In this activity, students will identify themes and symbols from the story, and support their choices with details from the text.

As a classroom activity, students can track the rich symbolic writing Hawthorne uses throughout “The Birthmark”. In the example storyboard above, the creator has focused on Hawthorne's use of Puritan ideology through symbols and themes in "The Birthmark".


Symbols and Themes to Discuss

IMPERFECTION: Man is Flawed

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.


SCIENCE: Man’s Pursuit for Knowledge

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.


BIRTHMARK: The Crimson Stain

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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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in "The Birthmark". Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from "The Birthmark" you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for the example(s) that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit the assignment.

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Template


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Rubric

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The Birthmark






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