The Birth-Mark Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 20 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Birth-Mark.
This section contains 353 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
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The Birth-Mark Summary & Study Guide Description

The Birth-Mark Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Birth-Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark.” Hawthorne’s Short Stories. New York: Vintage Books, 2011. 177-193. Print.

The story is set towards the end of the 1700s. Aylmer is a renowned scientist who has recently married Georgiana, a beautiful young woman. Aylmer views Georgiana as physically perfect except for a small birthmark on her cheek. Aylmer becomes obsessively disgusted by the birthmark, and he eventually confesses this to Georgiana. Georgiana, desperate to please her husband, says that she will undergo any risk to have the birthmark removed. Aylmer says that with his scientific knowledge and experience, he is confident that he will be able to find a way to remove it.

Aylmer and Georgiana go to the apartment that houses Aylmer’s laboratory. Aylmer first entertains Georgiana with some demonstrations, such as causing a plant to rapidly grow from a pot of soil. However, the plant withers when touched. Aylmer then takes a photographic portrait of Georgiana, but the portrait is blurry except for Georgiana’s birthmark. As Aylmer sets about working on a way to remove the birthmark, Georgiana occupies herself with reading books that she finds in the apartment. Many of them are by medieval scientists who apparently were convinced that their scientific knowledge would grant them power over nature.

Georgiana also reads a notebook in which Aylmer recorded many of his experiments. The language of the notations is often reverential, despite only describing observable phenomena. Georgiana notes that the results of all of the experiments apparently fell short of Aylmer’s hopes and expectations. Aylmer shows Georgiana some concoctions that he has created over the years and he makes grand claims about their powers. He says that a truly wise scientist would know to never use an elixir whose powers are too great or too morally questionable. Aylmer then gives Georgiana a new concoction that he says will remove Georgiana’s birthmark. Georgiana drinks the concoction, and her birthmark fades, but she dies. Aylmer then feels deep regret for not simply learning to love the birthmark.

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This section contains 353 words
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