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The Birthmark

The Birthmark

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Man and the Natural World Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

We know not whether Aylmer possessed this degree of faith in man's ultimate control over Nature. (1)

This is such an interesting line, because the narrator confesses that he is in fact ignorant of all the facts. It's odd, because for most of the narrative he maintains omniscience, with access to both Aylmer and Georgiana's thoughts. It's possible that Hawthorne is making a point about the extent of human knowledge.

Quote #2

It was the fatal flaw of humanity which Nature, in one shape or another, stamps ineffaceably on all her productions, either to imply that they are temporary and finite, or that their perfection must be wrought by toil and pain. (8)

This passage suggests that Aylmer's disgust with the birthmark is rooted in his own sense of competition with Nature for the ability to create. Nature seems to be flaunting its own prowess at him through the birthmark.

Quote #3

It needed but a glance with the peculiar expression that his face often wore to change the roses of her cheek into a deathlike paleness, amid which the crimson hand was brought strongly out, like a bass-relief of ruby on the whitest marble. (9)

Consider this and the other similes, metaphors, or images that Hawthorne uses to describe Georgiana's birthmark. Together, what do these various images provide as to the reader's impression of the mark?

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