Birthmark

By Hawthorne
How does Hawthorne in the "Birthmark" use Irony, Ambiguity, Paradox,
and Symbol? Ambiguity: Two different interpretations can be used to describe

Georgiana’s character. At first she seems to be a strong confident women who
is very self assured. Only after the constant focus of her husband’s attention
to her birthmark, does she begin to willow away. When Aylmer gives her the
elixir to drink, Georgiana has submitted to doing whatever in necessary to
relieve her husband from his misery caused by her birthmark. Irony: The removal
of the birthmark was an event in irony. Aylmer and Georgiana did not know that
the mark provided the life blood to his wife. After the removal of the
birthmark, Aylmer’s wife was perfect for a short few moments, only to die.

Paradox: A statement that seems contrary to common sense. Georgiana states
during a discussion with her husband "let the attempt be made at whatever
the risk. Danger is nothing for me; for life, while this hateful mark makes me
the object of your horror and disgust..." Common sense would allow

Georgiana to tell Aylmer that if he did not like the beauty mark, he should
leave her for a women who would be perfect in her eyes. Instead, Georgiana is
demanding he do whatever necessary to remove the birthmark no matter what the
consequences. Symbol: The actual birthmark is one of the most prominent uses of
symbol in his story. The birthmark has references to life, death, beauty and
disgust. In much of his fiction Hawthorne treats "Pride" as an
"evil". Is an evil type of pride evident in the "Birthmark"?

Following are two examples of where I found a reader could interpret Aylmer’s
pride as evil. Aylmer states "Even Pygmalion, when his sculptured woman
assumed life, felt not greater ecstasy than mine will be." Aylmer is
already feeling the evil pride of his upcoming "sculpture", regardless
of the consequences. His confidence could be interpreted as a cocky pride. I am
sure if the removal of the birthmark was successful, he would have opened a
circus type show to display his great work. The other reference to Aylmer’s
evil is Is the "Birthmark" morally ambiguous? "The momentary
circumstances 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" This statement could be interpreted morally in many ways. The most
commanding part of this sentence to me was "to find the perfect future in
the present." This sentence alone has a powerful meaning. If only Aylmer
had followed his own thought, the story would have had an entirely different
ending. Hawthorne writes "I have sometimes produced a singular and not
unpleasing effect...by imagining a train of incidents in which the spirit and
mechanism of the fairyland should be combined with the characters and manners of
familiar life." What fantastic elements does Hawthorne use in the
"Birthmark"? Hawthorne uses many magical words a few are listed with
definitions below. Spectral - supernatural alchemists - wizard elixir - magic
potion There is many references to a "fairyland" in the reading,
especially when referencing the elixir Aylmer was preparing for Georgiana. When

Georgiana noticed the liquid inside of the globe, she said " It is so
beautiful to the eye that I could imagine it the elixir of life." The
beauty of the potion’s color was strong enough to attract attention and
curiosity. Another reference to the fantasy world in the "Birthmark"
was Aylmer’s statement to Georgiana when he caught her reading his large folio
containing all of his potions. Aylmer said "It is dangerous to read in a
sorcerer’s books.