Science Of Death
Nathaniel Hawthorne was a writer with many successful stories. From reading those stories it is evident that he had an obsession with science and experimenting with people. In his stories you can find characters (or scientists) trying to find answers that typically end in death. This tragic result shows how one of Hawthornes main themes is the misuse of science.
The misuse of science that Hawthorne establishes in his stories is assiduous, but is most evident in The Birth Mark. In this short story he describes a couple, Aylmer and Georgiana, who are intertwine with science. For Aylmer believed the love of science could rival the love of a woman in its depth and absorbing energy because of Aylmers love of science. For Georgianas beauty came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature except for a minor blemish. The blemish or defect was in the center of Georgianas left cheek, and was the reason that Aylmer thought he needed to experiment on or remove it. This was the basis of Hawthornes theme and the reoccurring themes that involved science, which he is emphasizing.
The story of Aylmer and Georgiana goes on to tell how they made the removal of this singular mark the justification of science and human experimentation. Before Georgiana can get it removed she has to be convinced of the benefits of this experiment. But his fear that it might be fatal to keep the birthmark is revealed to her through talking in his sleep. She is disturbed on how important it is to him,so she agrees to the removal. With the help of his assistant, Aminadab, he begins the experiments. He locking her in a fumigating room and drugged her to delusions – making a strange, indefinite sensation creeping through her veins, and tingling, half painfully, half pleasurably, at her heart.
On one occasion between experiments, she found Aylmers journals – sorcerers books. These journals were the sad confession and continual exemplification of the shortcomings of the composite man, the spirit burdened with clay and working in matter, and of the despair that assails the higher nature at finding itself so miserably thwarted by the earthly part that were common failures of a genius men or that of scientists. Ending in tragic results were the theme of this collection of journals such as the theme of this tale and of Hawthornes stories.
So in the despair of many failed attempts at removing this birthmark, Aylmer and Georgiana fall into insanity over this one minor blemish. Through Aylmers insanity he believed that he should use the most precious poison that ever was concocted in this world- the elixir of immortality. Others who had gotten to this long-sought medium were incapable of using it. But to Aylmer and Georgiana, physical beauty was important than death. So she took the elixir of life and was granted beauty that is, the birthmark was removed. But it cost Georgiana her life.
This proverb of Hawthornes and that of his many stories is centered on the idea of taking life, portrayed as the misuse of science. Like Georgiana and the elixir of life, science is misused. Where it is suppose to give more opportunities, it does the opposite and only takes life and Aylmers dream came true.