The Love Of Science (Nathainel Hawthorne's The Birthmark)
The Love of Science
In this essay, I will discuss how science manifests evil in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark.” Science is a major asset in the world today. The use and dependence of science is overwhelming. Many scientific experiments are ungodly. Hawthorne brings up many important issues in his story. I will concentrate on how Aylmer puts his love for science before his love for other people and himself.
Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, of a prominent Puritan family. Hawthorne’s father died when he was very young and this influenced his somber and solitary attitude. Hawthorne read works by many different poets and romancers.
As Hawthorne became a man, he married Sophia Peabody. Even though his marriage was a happy turning point in his life, Hawthorne still refused to share the optimistic philosophy of Transcendentalism. While making his home in the Old Manse, he continued his analysis of the Puritan mind. This was the breaking point for his writing Moses From and Old Manse, which included “The Birthmark.”
In Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark,” Aylmer actually puts his first love, science, aside to persuade a lover. He feels that it is time to find a wife. Years ago “…it was not unusual for the love of science to rival the love of woman in its depth, and absorbing energy.” (Hawthorne 277)
Once married, Aylmer brings to his new wife’s attention the small birthmark upon her cheek. When he asks her if she has ever thought about removing it, she is very upset with her husband. He asks, “’… has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?’” (Hawthorne 278) She is surprised that her husband would even ask his wife such a question. Her response is “’…it has been so often called a charm that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so.’” (Hawthorne 278) Aylmer’s response is very cruel. He says “’…we hesitate whether to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me…’” (Hawthorne 278) His wife is “…deeply hurt…” (Hawthorne 278) and then questions Aylmer’s reasons for marrying her. Did he marry Georgiana only to use her to remove the birthmark upon her precious face? As sad as it is to admit, he may very well have. The birthmark was barely noticeable. Why would he bring up such a discussion? Why should it matter if Georgiana had a small birthmark on her cheek? “Masculine observers of the birthmark did not heighten their admiration, contended themselves with wishing it away…” (Hawthorne 278) If no other man had minded, why did Aylmer? If he minded so much, why did he marry her?
Of course Georgiana is hesitant of the mysterious cure Aylmer has brought to her attention. “’Perhaps it removal may cause cureless derformity; or it may be the stain goes as deep as life itself. Again: do we know that there is a possibility…of unclasping the firm grip of this little hand which was laid upon me before I came into this world?’” (Hawthorne 280) Are there side affects? If so, what do they consist of?
The only response Aylmer gives is “’…I have spent so much thought upon the subject…I am convinced of the perfect practicability of its removal.’” (Hawthorne 280) He is sure that nothing will go wrong. But, of course, will Aylmer really have to make Georgiana aware of any side affects that he knows of? He is so worried about his wife’s looks and his love for science, he does not care.
Georgiana then worries about her husband’s feelings of disgust and says “’If there be the remotest possibility of it…let the attempt be made at whatever risk. Danger is nothing to me; for life, while this hateful makes me the object of your horror and disgust, -- life is a burden which I would fling down with joy. Either remove this dreadful hand, or take my wretched life! You have deep science.’” (Hawthorne 280) She trusts her husband and his work.
At this point, Aylmer should have told his wife that he did not car about her looks, he only for her inside beauty. He did not do that though. He simply replies “’…doubt