The Birthmark

The Birthmark

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  • "He had left his laboratory to the care of an assistant, cleared his fine countenance, from the furnace smoke, washed the stain of acids from his fingers, and persuaded a beautiful woman to become his wife." (177)
  • "Georgiana, has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?" (178)
  • "Either remove this dreadful hand, or take my wretched life!" (181)
  • It's the late 1700's, and Aylmer and Georgiana have just been recently married. Georgiana is beautiful, one of the most beautiful women in the city. Aylmer is a devoted scientist and experimenter. His main goal is to figure out how nature really works. But, he decides to take a short break from his experiments to be with Georgiana
  • "It is dangerous to read in a sorcerer's books." (188)
  • However, Georgiana has a birthmark on her face. It is blood red, and the shape of a hand. Aylmer thinks it ruins her 'almost perfect' face, and frankly, he is scared of it. He begs her to let him get rid of it for her, and tells her that he can do it easily. Georgiana, who had never been insecure about it before, starts to doubt herself.
  • "There is no taint of imperfection on thy spirit. Thy sensible frame, too, shall soon be perfect." (191)
  • To Aylmer's dismay, it seems like removing the birthmark won't be as easy as he seems. He imagines that her birthmark goes deeper than just her skin, and that it grips her very soul. There are doubts of wether he can complete this task or not, going from his abundance of failed experiments in the past. While Aylmer worries, Georgiana becomes more insecure and agrees to remove the mark.
  • "Aylmer, dearest Aylmer, I am dying!" (193)
  • Georgiana waits for Aylmer to come up with a way to get rid of the mark, and becomes aquainted with his assistant, Aminadab. While snooping through Aylmer's laboratory, she finds a book that is a record of all of his experiments. She finds that most of them were failed. She realizes that removing the mark will not be easy, like he said, and she is upset that he lied to her.
  • Aylmer shows Georgiana a 'mortality serum' and she is frightened by the concept. He tells her that this is the way that he will be able to rid the mark from her face. She is very reluctant at first. But because she is so desperate to get rid of it, and because she can't stand the thought of her husband being grossed out by her, she agrees to drink the liquid.
  • After drinking the liquid, Georgiana faints and becomes deathly pale. As Aylmer watches over her, he notices the mark is disappearing and shouts with glee, and his shouts wake her up. Upon waking, she tells him that the mark was connected to her heart, and now that it is gone, she's going to die. She dies, and Hawthorne describes Aminadab laughing in the background, like he knew all along.
  • "[Aylmer] failed to look beyond the shadowy scope of time, and, living once for all in eternity, to find the perfect future in the present." (193)
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