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The Birthmark

The Birthmark

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Foolishness and Folly Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

To explain this conversation it must be mentioned that in the centre of Georgiana's left cheek there was a singular mark, deeply interwoven, as it were, with the texture and substance of her face. (7)

Hawthorne here hints at the ultimate flaw in Aylmer's plan. If the mark on Georgiana's face is deeply interwoven with her countenance, then it will be impossible to remove.

Quote #2

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. (7)

It's the original Rorschach test.

Quote #3

The crimson hand expressed the ineludible gripe in which mortality clutches the highest and purest of earthly mould, degrading them into kindred with the lowest, and even with the very brutes, like whom their visible frames return to dust. In this manner, selecting it as the symbol of his wife's liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death, Aylmer's sombre imagination was not long in rendering the birthmark a frightful object. (8)

In seeing the birthmark as a symbol, Aylmer ought to realize that removing it is impossible – because removing sin or sorrow or death from an individual is impossible. But he seems to miss this point.

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