The Birth-Mark

Fragility of the Intellectual Male Psyche and Permanence of Humanity In The Birth-Mark College

Laden with allegories, dualisms, and symbolism, Hawthorne’s "The Birth-Mark" makes light of a variety of multi-faceted and complex issues, foremost among them those of sexuality and humanity. While the character of Aylmer seems both emotionally and intellectually secure, his obsession with perfection when applied to the subject of his wife Georgiana reveals deeper, more disconcerting stigmas that reflect the insecurity and fragility of the intellectual male psyche, while simultaneously exposing the inescapable and essential quality of imperfection to the scheme of mankind.

The ultimate tragedy of this work is foreshadowed almost immediately from its onset, with the narrator ominously stating how Aylmer

"...had devoted himself, however, too unreservedly to scientific studies, ever to be weaned from them by any second passion. His love for his young wife might prove the stronger of the two; but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and uniting the strength of the latter to its own" (Hawthorne 645).

This initial description of Aylmer truly depicts him as the 'man of science' he is said to be. In stating that Aylmer would be unable to be distracted from science by any 'second passion,' Hawthorne...

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