external image nathaniel-hawthorne-1-sized.jpg Nathaniel Hawthorne ( 1804-1864 ) The Birthmark

( The wiki changed all of my fonts and moved everything around so the spacing is really messed up. I kept trying to change it but it wouldn't work.)

Alymer is a very dedicated scientist and is married to Georgiana. Alymer balances his love for science with his wife and cares for her dearly. One day Alymer asks his wife if she ever thought about getting her birthmark on her left cheek removed. The crimson birthmark is in the shape of a hand and is two finger tips in size. When Georgiana blushes the crimson red birthmark disappears, but when she returns to her normal color, the birthmark is very prominent against her pale complexion. Men thought that this mark was a gift, yet women thought that the birthmark took away some of her beauty. In the past Alymer had never given that much thought to the birthmark, but lately it is all that he can think of. He finally decides to confront Georgian about getting the birthmark removed. Georgiana considers her husband’s advice and comes to the conclusion that she wants the brithmark removed at any cost. However, when she steps into his laboratory for the removal of her birthmark, she faints. Georgiana woke up from being unconscious very confused. Alymer told her not to hide her birthmark from him because he is confident that he will be successful in removing it. He tries multiple experiments to remove the birthmark and failed every time. Alymer gave her a special flower that would release a unique fragrance, but when she touched it, it immediately turned coal black. Every time Alymer mentions the brithmark, Georgiana shrinks with embarrassment. Alymer tells his wife that he has concocted the elixir of immortality. Georgiana says that she hates her birthmark now more than her husband does. While Alymer works on a solution to Georgiana’s birthmark, she reads his experimental journal. While browsing through his journal, Georgiana discovers that with everyone of her husband's successes came failures. Alymer gives his wife the medicine and eventually the crimson birthmark disappears. As Alymer is sitting with his wife, Georgiana tells hikm that she is dying. Through the silence Alymer could hear a faint, hoarse chuckling. He finally realized that he made a mistake and focused his time entirely on the future and didn't reflect on the present. Although Alymer was successful in removing the birthmark from his wife's cheek, he failed when his wife's life ended.

"Georgiana's lovers were wont to say that some fairy at her birth-hour had laid her tiny hand upon the infant's cheek, and left this impress there in token of the magic endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts." "It must not be concealed, however, that the impression wrought by this fairy sign-manual varied exceedingly according to the difference of temperament in the beholders." "Some fastidious persons - but they were exclusively of her own sex - affirmed that the bloody hand, as they chose to call it, quite destroyed the effect of Georgiana's beauty and rendered her countenance even hideous. This excerpt explains the idea that men thought of Georgiana's birthmark as a gift while women thought this mark was a hinder to her beauty. Many men thought the mark enhanced her beauty and if they did not like it, they simply wished it wasn't there. It is interesting how different people's perspectives are about people's beauty and the significance of occurrences. This reminds me of optical illusions - where the picture depends on the viewer. What the picture below contains depends on how the viewer interprets it. When I look at this picture, I see a hand with a lion in the palm. When others look at this picture that might only see a lion or a hand. These poles in opinion happen everywhere. In schools today, one may ask a guy which girl they think is the prettiest and each might answer with a different name. How appearances are perceived can differ depending on gender, age, ethnicity and background. Everyone is unique and therefore has their own unique opinion. tigerface_scary_optical_illusion.jpg

"Yes, master," answered Aminadab, looking intently at the lifeless form of Georgiana; and then he muttered to himself, "If she were my wife, I'd never part with that birthmark."

This excerpt comes after we learn about Alymer's hate towards Georgiana's birthmark. Alymer was working on concocting a remedy for his wife's unusual birth defect. One day he called Georgiana down to test his methods on her and shortly after entering his laboratory, she fainted. When she became conscious, Aminadab voiced his opinion about her birthmark. Many people today take what they have for granted and don't appreciate their loved ones. This is evident in Alymer's relationship with Georgiana. I do not doubt that Alymer loved his wife dearly, but he overshadowed that love with his persistence to remove the crimson birthmark. Georgiana's birthmark brought great distress to Alymer that he even dreamed about it. To Aminadab, Georgiana was flawless and he was willing to overlook her flaw. When one becomes married they accept their partner, "for better or for worse." This idea is not evident in Alymer and Georgiana's relationship. In a relationship, one should be able to overlook the miniscule imperfections and not be burdened by them. "The momentary circumstance was too strong for him; he failed to look beyond the shadowy scope of time, and, living once for all in eternity, to find the perfect future in the present." After Georgiana died, Alymer realized that what he had done was a mistake, and he was too wrapped up in the future that he didn't take any notice to the present. Instead of enjoying his time with his wife, he worked diligently on creating a solution to her birthmark. In today’s society this occurs repeatedly. An example I can think of is people who are, “workaholics.” They spend so much time and effort trying to obtain monetary satisfaction that they miss out on all of the joys of life. People who work all the time are too wrapped up in making more money that they usually dedicate all of their time to their work including free time. They miss out on spending time with their families and seeing their kids grow. Usually most people realize what they missed out on once it is gone. Like the Counting Crows’ song, Big Yellow Taxi, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” Alymer didn’t realize what a wonderful person Georgiana was while he was trying to clear her cheek of the hindering mark. All he thought about was his goal of removing the mark and didn’t take time to enjoy life. Alymer didn’t realize what he had until it was gone and he was left wifeless.

While I was reading this story, I didn’t understand why the “birthmark” was so significant. At the end I realized that it was a symbol of imperfection and showed Alymer’s struggle in improving the future instead of focusing on the present. From a literal perspective I could relate to Georgiana’s birthmark because I have seen others with birthmarks - to some they are cherished and to others they are embarrassments. At first Georgiana liked her crimson mark and thought it made her unique. But after Alymer repeatedly questioned her about it, she started to doubt her beauty. Many times people have their own thought and are easily persuaded into the opposite idea. This “peer pressure" causes emotional disturbance and can be quite devastating. The peer pressure in this story is very devastating because Alymer’s opinion of the birthmark made Georgiana feel as though she wanted the birthmark removed or she didn't want to live anymore. In the end, both were accomplished but were not “successful.” Alymer was successful in removing the birthmark, but in return he lost his beloeved wife. Giving in to these ideas is harmful but happens all of the time today. Kids trying to fit in will listen to what their peers have to say and then they are brainwashed in to thinking the same idea. Although the story ended in tragedy, I feel as though Alymer learned a vital lesson and realized what he did was wrong and will be with him for the rest of his life.