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The Hunt for Purity. Can We Ever Be Satisfied?

The story that I read was ?The Birthmark? by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The story was written in 1843. This book is one of numerous stories that Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote. The Birthmark is about a man who becomes upset with God for situating a birthmark on his wife?s left cheek. In this essay I will discuss the theme of this book, the main characters, the setting, the conflict and the style of this book.

The theme of this story is purity or the lack of purity. By the word purity I mean the quality or condition of being pure. The main character, Aylmer, is preoccupied with the impurity of his wife, Georgiana. Her impurity is a birthmark in the silhouette of a hand that is on her left cheek. Aylmer can?t get his eyes past the birthmark so he tells his wife, ??Georgiana, has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed???(1). This excerpt is said with the goal of trying to get Georgiana to eliminate the mark on her face. Georgiana contemplates that the hand-shaped birthmark upon her face is unusual and therefore unique. Someone once told her that the blotch acts as a charm, that it even resembles a fairy?s handprint. ???it has so often been called a charm,?? she says at one point to Aylmer (1). In this past excerpt, the idea of her purity is shown when she feels that her mark is very pure and she thinks of herself as been pure. Aylmer shudders at the spectacle of the birthmark and sought her to remove the mark. At one point in time when Georgiana is heading into the laboratory, Aylmer glances at the mark and shudders so noticeably, that when Georgiana catches a glimpse of him, she faints at knowing her impurity causes her loving husband to shudder at the sight of the mark. She does not care what has to take place in order to remove the mark, as long as the impurity is removed from her cheek.

The character of Aylmer is a fascinating one that turns out to be preoccupied and bothered with his wife?s impurity. Throughout this entire story you obtain the feeling that something dreadful is going to come out of Aylmer?s obsession with the fact that his wife has not obtained purity. In the end of course we find out that Aylmer takes the life of his wife for the reason that he can exist with the birthmark no more. The additional main character is Aylmer?s wife, Georgiana. She is appealing, for the fact that she is effortlessly manipulated. In the beginning she likes her birthmark and considers it as a charm, but as quickly as Aylmer says that he does not like the mark and desires it removed, she changes her mind and opts for the birthmark to be removed. The instances that show this are the following two passages, ??To tell you the truth, it has so often been called a charm, that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so?? (1). This passage illustrates that at one point in time, Georgiana enjoys the mark?s presence a great deal and considers it as a symbol of good fortune. ??If there be the remotest possibility of it, let the attempt be made, at whatever risk??(2). This statement gives you an idea about how much she despises her ?charm? by the end of the story (1). I did not, in actuality, like her personality because of the fact that she is effortlessly manipulated.

The story takes place ?In the latter part of the last century?(1). I also presume that the story took place in Europe because Aylmer ??had roused the admiration of all the learned societies in Europe?(1). More specifically, a large amount of the story takes place in Aylmer?s laboratory, a place in which he has done multiple experiments and where he expects that he can rid his spouse, Georgiana, of the impurity, being the birthmark on her cheek. The boudoir is thought of as, ??a series of beautiful apartments, not unfit to be the secluded abode of a lovely women?? (3). This statement implied that the boudoir appeared to be more than a basic laboratory of the era. When the passage is thought, it seems as though Georgiana is amazed to see how gorgeous the laboratory and boudoir look.

The conflict in this story is science versus nature. I believe this because Aylmer is unsatisfied with the impurity of how nature created Georgiana. When Aylmer finally realizes that he cannot see past Georgiana?s birthmark, Aylmer feels that he has to play the role of science in order to change Georgiana?s impurity. As soon as Aylmer thinks he can change the creation of Georgiana, he jumps on the opportunity. When Georgiana finally agrees to allow Aylmer to make her birthmark disappear, he begins to start experimenting with different potions until finally he creates a potion that cures a discolored plant. Unfortunately when Georgiana takes the potion that Aylmer creates, she dies. But Aylmer should not be to blame because Georgiana says to him, ??Either remove this dreadful Hand, or take my wretched life!??(2). Ultimately we learn the hard way that man cannot defeat nature, and when we try we end up making things worse, even if it seems they are getting better.

The style of the story interests me as I read. This short story is told from the third person, which permits us to read the story without any preconceived notions toward either character. The story is quite figurative and not very concrete. One way in which the story takes a figurative approach, is the fact that the birthmark on Georgiana?s cheek, is in the shape of a tiny hand. Most birthmarks are not in a noticeable shape and the fact that everyone thought that it appeared in the shape of a hand makes me think it is not real and a figurative for their relationship. I say that because Aylmer thinks that she is a wonderful woman when they meet but overtime he realizes how much an aspect of her bothers him. It is merely one small object, however, the mark annoys Aylmer toward the point where he asks Georgiana to get rid of it. In a relationship several couples discover minute impurities with their spouse that irritate them to the point of divorce or disintegration. ??My poor Aylmer! You have aimed loftily you have done nobly! Do not repent, that, with so high and pure a feeling, you have rejected the best the earth could offer. Aylmer- dearest Aylmer, I am dying!?? (7). Georgiana says this after she consumes the liquid remedy that Aylmer created to take care of her impurity. Unfortunately Aylmer pays the ultimate penalty of Georgiana?s existence due to his obsession with her impurity.

This story is regarding the impurity in a relationship and how if you focus on hunting for purity, you will ultimately end up destroying the relationship. I believe this seeing as in the end Georgiana dies due the obsession of her husband. I think that in relationships there needs to be healthy conversation and superior communication.

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. ?The Birthmark.? Twice-Told Tales. 1843. World Library, 1991.


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