Friday, January 27, 2012

The Birthmark,

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

In my effort to catch up with American Literature, I feel upon a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Birthmark. The story is about a late 18th century scientist Alymer who devoted his life to figuring out Nature to the detriment of his personal and social life. However, lately he abandoned his laboratory and obsessed philosophy and persuaded a beautiful woman to become his wife.

As beautiful as she is, Georgina has a birthmark. While some find beauty in it, others view it as the irony of Nature, it's imperfection. That is the case for her husband who thinks that "it was the fatal flaw of humanity which Nature, in one shape or the other, stamps ineffaceably on all her productions, either to imply that they are temporary and finite, or that their perfection must be wrought by toil and pain". 

At first, Georgina falls apart. She feels rejected by her husband and ugly. As they both grow increasingly unhappy in their marriage, Alymer fixated on her birthmark and Georgina drowned in self hatred, he finally comes up with a potion that makes the birthmark disappear.  Sure enough, she drinks the potion and falls asleep. The birthmark fades, Georgina dies and Alymer laughs.

The narrator then takes over to conclude how we humans cannot live in perfection and we human sometimes cannot handle imperfection... The story is all and all 10 pages, but there is so much to take from there.

A birthmark. What's your quirk?

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