Category: Literature

“The Birthmark" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

“The Birthmark” by Hawthorne is a short narrative that cautions the readers to take another dimension of pursuing physical perfection. All through the tale, Hawthorne makes the use of symbolism to be seen greatly by showing that the symbols portrayed in the story "Birthmark" not only foreshadow the outcome of the tale, but also emphasize on the theme significantly. "The Birthmark" plays a significant role in bringing out the symbolism concept in the story, as well as act as a way to express current issues, whereby Hawthorne displays the flaw of man taking control over nature for personal gain (Hawthorne 318).

All through the story, man's manipulation of nature and its effects is keenly observed as a result of the scientist’s passion in making an effort to perfect nature and a husband's obsession in trying to impress the wife through perfection. The story's main characters, Aylmer and Georgiana, are lovebirds. Nevertheless, Aylmer’s love for Georgiana is tarnished by the tiny red birthmark on her cheek implicated by nature. Georgiana believed her mark to be kind of a charm, which men in the olden days had found enchanting, signifying sexual symbolism. Aylmer, however, reflects it as an imperfection and, his professional inclinations as a scientist make him develop the anxiety to manipulate nature, despite it being the similar nature that grounds the flaw in his love for Georgiana, who has the tiny red birthmark. The obsession with the birthmark gradually increases until it reaches a point, where he discovers it to be unbearable to live with (Hawthorne 265). His determination to get rid of the tiny, hand-shaped defectiveness on Georgiana's cheek empowers him to persuade Georgiana to permit him to eradicate it, even after he discloses his terrifying dream that he ought to carve down to her heart to be successful, since she felt they were to remain unhappy unless the birthmark is gone. Despite the fact that they both admire perfection, she comprehends it in spiritual terms, while Aylmer diminishes it to the physical, unaware of the utter goodness of his wife and therefore taking full benefit of his capability to dominate her (Hawthorne 320).

Georgiana’s birthmark symbolizes mortality, hence this clearly the high risk being undertaken by Aylmer. The narrator tries to reveal the essence of mortality by arguing that each organism is flawed in one way or another. However, the nature has means of reminding us that every living thing ultimately dies (Hawthorne 333). The hand-shaped mark on Georgiana’s cheek is the one mark found in a perfect being, which symbolizes her as being a mortal. The mortality concept is highly evident in Aylmer’s revulsion, whereby he protests his wife death as a result of getting rid of the mark on his wife’s cheek. Aylmer’s submits to the fear he feels, and his misinterpretation of the symbol on Georgiana’s face leads him astray. Even though Aylmer eventually qualifies in removing the birthmark, Georgiana, just as the dream foretold, dies. The death clearly illustrates the meaning of symbolism as derived in the book about the issue of mortality. “The Birthmark” finally overthrows natural beauty, which consist of imperfections, over the ideal beauty generated through art or science. This explores the hubris of art and science in struggling to perfect what nature offers; and also discloses an appeal and worry with the power of women’s sexuality, which may lead a man to undertake any action such as endangering a woman’s life or diminishing it.

“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant

“The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant consist of various themes, which help in comprehending the book as it derives different concept brought about in a given paragraph or chapter. The themes tend to use the characters depicted in the book as well as various stylistic devices such as rhetorical questions, which clearly brings closer the mind of the reader of what is happening around the evolving surrounding of the book as planned by the writer. The various themes are clearly mentioned and elaborated below.

Theme of women and femininity

In the 19th century, the French version portrays a desperate housewife by the name, Mathilde Loisel, who plays a major role in the book "The Necklace” by being the main character. During this time, gender was a very crucial aspect, because being a woman in a man's world she has almost no control over her existence. She finds herself wedded to a husband she neither care for nor loves, and ends up taken to reside in a house she despises. The feminism aspect affects her because her wishes tend to be dragged to nothing, despite all the womanly virtues she posses. The particular wish to be a desirable woman to other men is not possible to be true, in spite of her being charming, graceful and beautiful, just because she does not have the necessary wealth. This theme of feminism results to a lot of rhetorical questions raised in the book (Maupassant 27).

Theme of wealth

The title itself, “The Necklace”, portrays the concept of wealth, which is evident from where the title originates. Mathilde’s desire is just to escape from her shabby middle-class lifestyle as well as divorce the tattered middle-class husband and live the stylish life which she was brought up in. She envies one of her wealthy friend, and this feeling hurts her. The saddest part of her life is when she loses the borrowed diamond necklace, which converge her back to her misery life in poverty, which actually makes her realize what a life without money means (Maupassant15).

Theme of pride

"The Necklace" is a story filled not only with greed, but also with pride. The main character of Mathilde Loisel is a proud woman. She feels far above the humbleness as portrayed by the husband, by felling as if she is living a forceful life below her expectation. She lets her beauty take over her personality such that she never sees anything positive that come across her life. It could be that it is also pride that inhibits Mathlide and her husband from acknowledging they have lost an expensive necklace (Maupassant 79). The loss of the necklace is what leads to Mathilde’s poverty, this come along with other influences in her life like the fading of her beauty.

Theme of suffering

"The Necklace" is story that, once thought in a deeper aspect, conveys a continuous suffering triggered by the cruelty of life and coincidence. At the beginning, we encounter Mathilde, the classic disappointed housewife, who spends her time lamenting of how tiresome and shabby her life is. At one point she discovers one instant of joy when she goes to a party, but opportunity is cruel as she gets to lose the necklace which could have improved her lifestyle. Later she and her husband experience a very diverse type of suffering: the suffering of real poverty, in which both builds up a devastating life between Mathlide and her husband (Maupassant 56).

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