Theme of Obsession
Consumption and obtaining the approval of others are vital components of American culture. The culture pushes people to obsess over how many people “like” their photos or compliment them on how beautiful they are; even though beauty ages, individuals will do anything to keep it intact. Whether it takes plastic surgery to get a smaller nose or ineffective home treatments to get rid of wrinkles, people will never give up until they reach perfection. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s books from the nineteenth century were eerily similar to contemporary American culture. Hawthorne shows the fixation with perfection, the toll it takes on a person’s life, and the effects it produces in The Birthmark.
An obsession is an irrational fixation with beauty, love, money, or fame. The infatuated individual pursues their obsession with tenacity and disregard for its adverse effects. As a result, it is one of the fundamental problems humans must deal with. Since male counterparts are perfectionists, it is evident that female bodies are endangered in literary works. Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark” illustrates this. The narrative demonstrates how the female characters accept death as the inevitable result of their husband’s desire. In his short story “The Birthmark,” American author Hawthorne explores the issue of obsession and shows how Aylmer’s quest for physical perfection finally led to Georgina’s murder.
The story “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne addresses the subject of obsession. The tale of Ayler, who sought to perfect his wife, is told by Hawthorne. Unfortunately, Georgiana died because Ayler was obsessed with perfection. Hawthorne portrays Ayler as a man of science who discovered a spiritual affinity that was more alluring than any chemical one demonstrating his love for Georgina. Despite a deep love for his wife, Ayler did not view “the birthmark” on Georgiana’s left cheek favorably. He becomes fixated on having Georgiana’s birthmark removed because he sees it as a symbol of human mortality, moral decay, and imperfection. Because of his infatuation with the birthmark on his wife’s cheek, Ayler fails to recognize his moral depravity and the mistakes that lead to the disaster.
In Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark,” Aymer, who primarily embodies modern society’s obsession with perfection, is the prominent representative of obsession. Society has excellent regard for external perfection and beauty, to the point where it has become a deadly preoccupation that cannot be satisfied. Humans are born with imperfections; thus, our flaws are inherent in who we are. The extent to which humans aspire to play God by creating a world full of immaculate women who meet the highest standards of beauty is revealed by a search for perfection that becomes obsessional. The monster known as The Obsession for Perfection, which eventually robs him of his devoted wife, plagues the antagonist’s life.
Hawthorne, as an inexhaustible longing, portrays the antagonist’s obsession with perfection. Even though Aymer adores his wife, he is fixated on making her perfect. He describes her mark as “rendering her countenance and even ugly” (Hawthorne). Her birthmark bothered Aymer, who was fixated on getting it removed since he thought it made her look unpleasant. Aymer says to his wife, “You come so nearly faultless from the hand of nature that the least imaginable defect…shocks me as being the visible evidence of imperfection” (Hawthorne). Accordingly, obsession—which people seek without thinking, leaving alone affection, love, profound quality, or righteousness—is the source of the potential for perfection. However, they frequently overlook that while flawlessness may be envisioned or sought after, it can never be genuinely attained or sustained over an extended period.
Aymer’s pursuit of perfection was motivated by a yearning to find happiness, even if it meant endangering his wife’s life. Georgina constantly sensed Aymer’s eyes on her and the mark on her face, the book claims, only to turn into “the object of horror and secrecy.” Hawthorne (Hawthorne). The contradictory standards for beauty in society make women miserable. For instance, Georgina did not consider her birthmark a flaw until Aymer requested that it be removed. To please him, she gave her approval. Aymer forces Georgina to consume the Elixir of Life to remove her birthmark. However, the mark’s disappearance also signified its disappearance.
However, with the mark’s removal, Georgina also lost her immortality. Her life grew shorter as the birthmark vanished from her cheeks, concluding her. Hawthorne illustrates the brutality of the obsession with perfection through Georgina’s untimely demise, showing how it rots the human soul and results in disruptive blindness to the beauty around us.
Georgiana was Aylmer’s lovely and passionate wife, and Aylmer cherished her. Her attachment to her husband was so great that she got obsessed with satisfying his obsessions and compulsions. We must do whatever it takes to get rid of it, or we will both lose our minds. Knowing that Aylmer will be disappointed and sad if the birthmark is not removed, she is eager to go to any length to please him. He is obsessed with making her ideal and exerting all of his influence. Because she wants to be perfect in her husband’s eyes and will do whatever it takes to make sure his wishes are fulfilled, she will go nuts.
After the therapy, Georgiana passes away, and her husband realizes everything he has battled for has been in vain. However, if Aylmer had acquired great wisdom, he would have avoided having to forego the joy that would have given his earthly existence a celestial-like weave (Hawthorne). If Aylmer had not been so intent on persuading nature and science to go his way, he might have been able to save the specific item that genuinely delighted him. He was preoccupied with the present and not thinking ahead. Aylmer and Georgiana were enthralled from start to finish, but for different motives. They sincerely cared about one another, but their addictions to pleasure ultimately prevented them from finding the joyful serenity they were after. Aylmer’s win quickly turned into a catastrophe, and his commitment waned.
The story’s analysis reveals that obsession is a recurring element throughout the entire narrative. As seen by Aylmer’s strange infatuation with the birthmark and Georgiana’s obsessiveness with Aylmer to the point of wanting to die by poison, “The Birthmark” focuses on the subject of obsession. Precisely the issue at which love becomes an obsession, making it dangerous and even lethal. Ironically, Aylmer lacks wisdom despite being a brilliant man. He does not understand that his wife’s inner beauty is what matters most. Whatever the case, the birthmark serves as a subliminal reminder of every person’s limited lifespan, which is imposed by mysterious natural forces.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark.” Paper Black. (2019). Large Prin. Accessed 15 October 2022.