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The Birthmark

The Birthmark


by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Birthmark Mortality Quotes

How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph)

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)

This line resonates thematically when we consider the mark as a symbol: man's imperfections are deeply woven into his character and cannot be rubbed out.

Quote #2

Its shape bore not a little similarity to the human hand. (1)

This is such an interesting line in a few different ways. First, the fact of a hand on Georgiana's face immediately makes us think of the hand of God – as though her maker touched her personally while crafting her apparently very beautiful face. But Hawthorne complicates it by specifying that it was the shape of a human hand – it is simultaneously the mark of Georgiana's humanity and mortality.

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)

Perhaps what Aylmer dislikes isn't the birthmark itself, but the fact that his wife is human and subject to the same vices as everyone else. He wants her to be perfect in both body and soul.

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