Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gods and Authors I mean scientists too!

Hawthorn, uses "The Birthmark" as a way to express Gods capability to posses mans inherent nature to lust for knowledge, and hang it over his head, only to scold all of humanity when man tries to pluck that which only the hand of God has the authority to behold. "The Birthmark" is fortunately not a fundamental flaw, it is a tool Hawthorn uses to expose the fundamental flaws of human nature. Realizing that such an irregularity in an absolute and immaculate frame may seem defect only to a soul who's spiritually losing sight of the truth, Hawthorn suspends the reader in those moments of the story and describes to us how Aylmer convinces himself and his wife that there is a problem, when there isn't. The death of "Georgiana" is a sign that, the fundamental defect is in some men's inability to regulate their desire, not realizing that by trying to act above God they undermine their own existence and lose what they were fighting for in the first place. In 1854, the world was changing, science was creating a coherence for humanity to live under, Hawthorn describes this "countenance"(11) to it, this venial approach to nature and her cause, as a mortal sin. 

Georgiana's birthmark "was a singular mark, deeply interwoven, as it were, with the texture and substance of her face."(11) It was said "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 magical endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts."(11) The small mark was the sign of something people would die for,  it added to the mystery of the woman's beauty. Yet her husband Aylmer a scientist defines the mark "as being the mark of earthly imperfections."(11) He is the only one in the story who sees the spot as a sign of imperfection. Aylmer  is "an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy,"(10) yet he still asks Georgiana in "an experience of spiritual affinity more attractive than any chemical one."(10) to marry him. And in doing so exposing himself as mortal man, fulfilling his natural physiological requirements. Yet he alone in his affinity for science claws over his own instincts and decides to refine an already perfect rendition of his wife and lover.

"The Birthmark" is defined as a mark made less evident the deeper Georgiana is submerged within the pleasures of life,  "When she blushed it gradually became more indistinct, and finally vanished amid the triumphant rush of blood that bathed the whole cheek with its brilliant glow,"(11) Anyone being exposed to "The Birthmark" might be a "shifting motion"(11) causing "her to turn pale" (11) then "there was the mark again."(11) "A crimson stain upon the snow"(11) her husband would say, always being exposed to it. Never becoming conscious of the fact that maybe, it was possibly his trepidation that would elicit the onset of her "stain" becoming more visible. Aylmer's insensibility to  his wife's reaction to his plight, merges him into a world without love, without truth. Unable to see his own wife's irrefutable beauty, Aylmer begins to kill her, before he even conducts his experiments.

It is mans nature to believe that the closer he comes to satisfying his inner most desires, the more imminent his relationship with God will become. Aylmer's dreams of removing the enigma found on the cheek of his young wife, are his ways of attaining perfection, by re-sculpting Gods already perfect work. The imprint of  the hand on his wife's face was selected by him "as the symbol of his wife's liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death"(12). He envisioned himself married to perfection, an image above God, Aylmer and his easy to persuade wife. That image of himself of course  can never materialize. Aylmer trying to refine his wives beauty beyond that of this world, end, with him murdering her with his own faith in his science, leading him further from enlightenment and down the the a new path, the road of despair.

Now no one, not one of us on the planet will be able to set eyes on the immaculate beauty that was once Georgina and "The Birthmark", because she was offered to us and we betrayed her as a whole. Hawthorn, offers us a glimpse into our future, by only looking a half century into his past. A look at the world right as it had become inundated in science, the new religion. That fascination as we know now, one hundred and fifty years latter, (to try to achieve that type of perfection), still futile. Our attempts to suspend ourselves reaching for the knowledge always force us to grasp the fundamental, the core that beauty is a constant, one put out of mans reach and control, but put just within his ability to see, and comprehend to do with as he pleases, knowing full well why Georgiana wasn't here for him to set his eyes on.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. "The Birthmark." Understanding Fiction. Judith Roof. Houghton Mifflin: 2005:10-22.print

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