The allegorical subjects, Science and Nature, are rivaled against each other amongst the multitude of themes in “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. These contrasting concepts represent themselves through the characters Aylmer, Georgiana, and Aminadab who are influenced by the enigmatic symbol of the birthmark in which they aim for its extermination.
The male protagonist, Aylmer, is a man of science. His role in the realm of scientific spirituality is aspiring towards what is naturally impossible: the removal of the birthmark. Even though the birthmark may vanish superficially, the obstacle in its eradication is the symbol Aylmer foreshadows as “sin, sorrow, decay and ...view middle of the document...
It’s a cold-blooded field where emotions and personal rights may be disregarded for the sole purpose of gathering facts and pioneering towards the unknown. Ethical issues are continuously being exploited in today’s society over topics like cloning and artificial intelligence where the compensation of safety allows for dangerous consequences humans are uncertain of.
Adjacent to Aylmer’s experiments, the studies are an attempt to learn all the laws of Nature. The narrator states Albertus Magnus, Cornelius Agrippa, and Paracelsus as naturalists in which Aylmer gains insight from this curriculum. In a manner similar like his predecessors, he wishes with this knowledge “to have acquired from the investigation of nature a power above nature, and from physics a sway over the spiritual world.”(Hawthorne) Regardless of his well-rounded comprehension, Aylmer is frustrated with Nature’s superiority over him to abstain him from the perfection of his wife.
He had studied the wonders of the human frame, and attempted to fathom the very process by which Nature assimilates all her precious influences from earth and air, and from the spiritual world, to create and foster Man, her masterpiece. The latter pursuit, however, Aylmer had long laid aside, in unwilling recognition of the truth, against which all seekers sooner or later stumble, that our great creative Mother, while she amuses us with apparently working in the broadest sunshine, is yet severely careful to keep her own secrets, and, in spite of her pretended openness, shows us nothing but results. She permits us indeed to mar, but seldom to mend, and, like a jealous patentee, on no account to make. (Hawthorne)
In relation to the idea of his battle with Nature, the imprint she leaves in the event of Georgiana’s birth further implicates Aylmer of his mortal abilities along with Georgiana’s minute imperfection. In this taunting manner, the symbol motivates his hatred and his ambition in its removal as he shudders with every glance. With this in mind, his commitment of sin is evidently the cause of the sorrow, decay, and death of his wife. On account of his disgust, he inflicts Georgiana with sorrow because, unlike him, she completely devotes her loyalty and affections towards him. Alongside this, his folio of failure documented in his scientific journal and the recent lack of success from the birthmark’s elixir, demonstrates the ruin of his aspirations signifying “decay”. Lastly, in Aylmer’s attempt to manipulate Nature’s perfect creation, he is punished with the affair of his wife’s death.
Furthermore, Aylmer’s wife, Georgiana, is the creation of Nature that is near perfect, except for the “fatal flaw of the crimson hand”(Hawthorne) in the form of a birthmark. Indeed, many may argue her spiritual perfection to be false due to her submissive behavior and her lack of backbone against the birthmark.
“Life is but a sad possession to those who have attained precisely the degree of moral...