The Love Of Science (Nathainel Hawthorne’s The Birthmark) The Love of Science In this essay, I will discuss how science manifests evil in Nathaniel Hawthornes The Birthmark. Science is a major asset in the world today. The use and dependence of science is overwhelming. Many scientific experiments are ungodly. Hawthorne brings up many important issues in his story.
I will concentrate on how Aylmer puts his love for science before his love for other people and himself. Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in Salem, Massachusetts, of a prominent Puritan family. Hawthornes father died when he was very young and this influenced his somber and solitary attitude. Hawthorne read works by many different poets and romancers. As Hawthorne became a man, he married Sophia Peabody. Even though his marriage was a happy turning point in his life, Hawthorne still refused to share the optimistic philosophy of Transcendentalism. While making his home in the Old Manse, he continued his analysis of the Puritan mind.
This was the breaking point for his writing Moses From and Old Manse, which included The Birthmark. In Hawthornes The Birthmark, Aylmer actually puts his first love, science, aside to persuade a lover. He feels that it is time to find a wife. Years ago it was not unusual for the love of science to rival the love of woman in its depth, and absorbing energy. (Hawthorne 277) Once married, Aylmer brings to his new wifes attention the small birthmark upon her cheek.
When he asks her if she has ever thought about removing it, she is very upset with her husband. He asks, has it never occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed? (Hawthorne 278) She is surprised that her husband would even ask his wife such a question. Her response is it has been so often called a charm that I was simple enough to imagine it might be so. (Hawthorne 278) Aylmers response is very cruel. He says we hesitate whether to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me (Hawthorne 278) His wife is deeply hurt (Hawthorne 278) and then questions Aylmers reasons for marrying her.
Did he marry Georgiana only to use her to remove the birthmark upon her precious face? As sad as it is to admit, he may very well have. The birthmark was barely noticeable. Why would he bring up such a discussion? Why should it matter if Georgiana had a small birthmark on her cheek? Masculine observers of the birthmark did not heighten their admiration, contended themselves with wishing it away (Hawthorne 278) If no other man had minded, why did Aylmer? If he minded so much, why did he marry her? Of course Georgiana is hesitant of the mysterious cure Aylmer has brought to her attention. Perhaps it removal may cause cureless derformity; or it may be the stain goes as deep as life itself. Again: do we know that there is a possibilityof unclasping the firm grip of this little hand which was laid upon me before I came into this world? (Hawthorne 280) Are there side affects? If so, what do they consist of? The only response Aylmer gives is I have spent so much thought upon the subjectI am convinced of the perfect practicability of its removal.
(Hawthorne 280) He is sure that nothing will go wrong. But, of course, will Aylmer really have to make Georgiana aware of any side affects that he knows of? He is so worried about his wifes looks and his love for science, he does not care. Georgiana then worries about her husbands feelings of disgust and says If there be the remotest possibility of itlet the attempt be made at whatever risk. Danger is nothing to me; for life, while this hateful makes me the object of your horror and disgust, — life is a burden which I would fling down with joy. Either remove this dreadful hand, or take my wretched life! You have deep science. (Hawthorne 280) She trusts her husband and his work.
At this point, Aylmer should have told his wife that he did not car about her looks, he only for her inside beauty. He did not do that though. He simply replies doubt not my power. I have already given this matter the deepest thoughtyou have led me deeper than ever into the heart of science, I feel myself fully competent to render this deal cheek as faultless as its fellowwhat will be my triumph when I shall have corrected what nature left imperfect in her fairest work! (Hawthorne 280) This is another way science manifests evil. Aylmer is playing God by changing what nature has given to Georgiana. Aylmer apprises his wife of his plans of removal.
He takes Georgiana to the lab and proceeds with the plan. Georgiana, out of nervousness, faints. Aylmer acts as if he does not care and proceeds with his plan. However, when Georgiana awakens, she feels more comfortable. He has redone the room into a fancier place, a place where even a female could feel cozy in.
Although, she still feels uncomfortable with the was her husband looks at her birthmark. Pray do not look at it again. I never can forget that convulsive shudder. (Hawthorne 282) He tries his hardest to make her feel comfortable. When Aylmer arrives with a liquid concoction, Georgiana says methinks I am of all mortals the most fit to die. (Hawthorne 286) Her husbands reply is why do we speak of dying? (Hawthorne 286) When he shows Georgiana the affects his concoction shows upon a dying geranium, she does not hesitate to drink the liquid.
As Georgiana slumbers, Aylmer watches in ecstasy, the dissappearance of Georgianas birthmark. He is thrilled with his success. When Georgiana awakens, she smiles at her reflection in the mirror. But then she mutters My poor AylmerI am dying. (Hawthorne 288) It was true, just as Aylmer was celebrating his success; he has killed he wife for hi love of science.
The world relies on science too much. People do not realize how science is becoming such a dependency. Aylmer does not realize this either. He kills his wife with no intention. He should have, however, found out what could have happened to his wife before trying the antidote.