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Hawthorne The Birthmark Summary

Hawthorne narrates a story of Aylmer a brilliant scientist and philosopher who abandon his experiments for some time in order to marry a beautiful girl Georgiana. Georgiana had a birthmark that many people had told her it is a charm and herself thought they were right. However, his husband Aylmer is not comfortable with the mark in her face and ends up asking her whether she had ever considered removing the birthmark. At first Georgiana takes the statement lightly and say she would not consider such an action but later realizes that Aylmer was serious. The birthmark is a very small red mark with a hand-shape on her left cheek and whenever she could blush, the mark would not be visible. To Georgiana’s male admirers, the birthmark was attractive and they could risk kissing it but to some women, they thought it ruined her beauty.

Aylmer is obsessed with the birthmark. To him, it is a symbol of mortality and sin and it is there to tower over Georgiana beauty in his brain. He could not think of anything else apart from the birthmark and the dreams he had earlier regarding the mark. As a result, Georgiana considers Aylmer’s preference of having the mark erased. Thrilled, he agrees to try as he professes complete assurance in his abilities, comparing himself to a Pygmalion and even kissed her unmarked cheek. They move to an apartment where Aylmer operated his laboratory. Aylmer had made stunning discoveries about fountains, mines, volcanoes, and many other natural wonders. In the apartment, Georgiana feels astonished by Aylmer’s magical creations including flowers that die after she touches it. He even tries to create her portrait with a metal plate. Aylmer had many wonders in his apartment to an extent that Georgiana was appalled.

While at the apartment, Georgiana gets to read many of Aylmer’s scientific books as well as accounts of his experiments. She realizes that most of his achievements always fell short of the originally set goals. Nevertheless, the accounts of those studies made her worship him. This hurts her but, though Aylmer is not happy about Georgiana’s discovery of his secrets, he still restores her spirits. He also believes she is plying and sends her away from the lab when she visits. Aylmer argued that Georgiana’s mark was deep in her body and was dangerous to remove. Despite, she was ready to drink anything he insisted. Her worries were that he could not love her the way she looked but wanted to create an ideal version of her. After Aylmer was through with his experiments, she gave Georgiana a potion that he believed could not fail. The birthmark faded but upon waking up and checking herself in the mirror, she died.


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