- Nathaniel Hawthorne’s tale “The Birth-Mark” — or is it “The Birthmark”? — has been a favorite story of mine for years despite (or maybe because of) its being so damn symbolically overdetermined.
Or perhaps you want a quick summary—a refresher—okay:
Aylmer, “a man of science,” has this totally hot wife Georgiana—only she’s got a birthmark on her cheek, a small red mark that resembles a tiny hand—and it drives our scientist mad—so mad that he determines to make her perfect by removing the mark. Tragic ending ensues.
- One of the reasons I like “The Birth-Mark” so much is that it so clearly limns the futility of idealism.
Aylmer’s driving desire for mastery over Nature (echoing Shelley’s Frankenstein): the desire to “lay his hand on the secret creative force and perhaps make new worlds.”
The word “God” does not appear in “The Birth-Mark.”
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