How we cite our quotes:
IN the latter part of the last century there lived a man of science, an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy, who not long before our story opens had made experience of a spiritual affinity more attractive than any chemical one. (1)
Before we even know anything about Aylmer, we are told of his obsession with science. Aylmer's role as a scientist defines his character utterly.
it was not unusual for the love of science to rival the love of woman in its depth and absorbing energy. (1)
This is indeed a central conflict in "The Birthmark." When we consider the reasons behind Aylmer's obsession with Georgiana's birthmark, we wonder if it doesn't really come down to his desire to triumph scientifically over Nature, rather than simply an obsession with appearances.
Georgiana's lovers were wont to say that some fairy at her birth hour had laid her tiny hand upon the infant's cheek, and left this impress there in token of the magic endowments that were to give her such sway over all hearts. (7)
Aylmer, the strict man of science, is contrasted with Georgiana's other lovers who believe in such things as fairies. Even the word "fairies" seems out of place in a story so dominated with questions of science, knowledge, and humanity.