The Birthmark
The Birthmark
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Birthmark Analysis

Literary Devices in The Birthmark

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Hawthorne makes it clear to his readers that the birthmark is a symbol, mostly by telling us that it is a symbol. Check it out:The crimson hand expressed the ineludible gripe in which mortality clu...

Setting

Hawthorne begins his narrative by placing Aylmer "in the latter part of the last century" (1). Because he was writing in the 1840s, we know that he's referring to the late 1700s. (And they say writ...

Narrator Point of View

The narrator of "The Birthmark" is allowed access to both Aylmer and Georgiana's thoughts. When learn, for example, that Aylmer perceives of the birthmark as "the symbol of his wife's liability to...

Genre

Dark Romanticism is a genre that explores the darker, sinful side of man. Think of it as a hybrid between Romanticism and Gothic fiction; it's just that, while Gothic fiction (think Edgar Allan Poe...

Tone

Hawthorne really likes to tell us how it is in this story. He has a message to tell us – the story is didactic and moral – so naturally the tone is going to suit these purposes. And now...

Writing Style

If you find "The Birthmark" to be slow reading, you're not alone. Hawthorne's prose can be dense, labored, and a veritable minefield of five-dollar words. Some prize-worthy sentences include:In the...

What's Up with the Title?

As far as plot is concerned, Georgiana's red mark is pretty much the focus of the story; this is the tale of Aylmer's attempts to remove his wife's birthmark. Of course, symbolically, the birthmark...

What's Up with the Ending?

At the end of "The Birthmark," Aylmer both succeeds and fails. He succeeds in that he finally rid his wife of her birthmark. He fails in that…she's dead. What went wrong?If you've been paying...

Plot Analysis

Aylmer is thoroughly devoted to science, and also recently married.Before the birthmark even comes into play, we get the classic set-up: a little background information on our characters, and a sub...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Overcoming the Monster (Sort of)

Aylmer wants to remove Georgiana's Birthmark.OK, so "The Birthmark" is tricky in that Aylmer thinks he knows what the monster is from the start and then gets a rude awakening at the end. From Aylme...

Three Act Plot Analysis

Act I is usually marked by the "hero's" commitment to his "journey." Whether you focus on Georgiana or on Aylmer as the story's "hero," we can be pretty sure Act I takes us through the couple's dec...

Trivia

Hawthorne was a newly-wed himself – six months, actually – at the time he wrote "The Birthmark." Think this has anything to do with his subject matter? (Source)Leonardo DiCaprio's chara...

Steaminess Rating

"The Birthmark" is really more sexual politics than it is sex. The story explores, among other ideas, the way that our physical self-image can be so altered by the gaze of those around us. In this...

Allusions

Pygmalion (19)Albertus Magnus (51)Cornelius Agrippa (51)Paracelsus (51)

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