The Birthmark Mind Map

The Birthmark
Overview
Main Characters
Themes
In the late 18th century Aylmer grows increasingly obsessed with his wife's birthmark and his attempts to perfect her beauty by removing it. Aylmer's passion for science and his belief that it can overcome human imperfections blind him to the foolishness of his quest to rid Georgiana's cheek of the mark.
Aylmer
Man of science seeking perfection
Georgiana
Aylmer's wife; a beauty whose birthmark is her only blemish
Aminadab
Aylmer's disapproving yet capable assistant
Science
Humans gain a sense of power over nature through studying it, but nature remains unfathomable.
Beauty
Opinions about what is beautiful vary from person to person, as shown in the differing views on Georgiana's birthmark.
Mortality
Despite Aylmer's hopes, immortality is not possible, even through science.
Numbering
Symbols
Aylmer's Lab
Represents the toil, physicality, and risk of scientific discovery
Birthmark
Symbolizes mortality, imperfection, magic, and life
Georgiana's Rooms
Suggest magic and miracles by their enchanting arrangement
1
Time Aylmer kisses his wife's hand-shaped birthmark
25
Stories in the collection Mosses from an Old Manse, including "The Birthmark"
2
Times Aylmer attempts to prove his scientific ability to his wife using a flower
1842
Year Hawthorne started renting Old Manse—a home owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson—where he wrote "The Birthmark"
Author
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE 1804-64
The 19th century was a time of significant advances in scientific knowledge, and Hawthorne, like other romantic writers, was intrigued by the idea that science might be able to change the course of nature. In "The Birthmark," Hawthorne probes and questions this notion.
26