Short Story #10 The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne can be found here

The last short story!!! It has been an interesting experience reading the 10 short stories and one I may replicate in the future. Some short stories are great, others mediocre, but the good thing is that they are short, so they will be over quickly (some quicker than others). But short stories can never replace a novel or especially a series, I feel so drained and sad after finishing a great novel or a fantastic series because I know there is no more!

But enough of that, let’s get into the last short story. Seems like this one is one of the oldest yet! Sometimes our passion for one thing (whether it be sport, science, books, music) rivals our love for the ‘special’ people in our lives and sometimes that passion is intensified by a special person, who is passionate also. This is certainly the case with Aylmer. He asks his new wife if she has considered removing a birthmark from her face. It’s hard to say if it is rude/insensitive or sweet for him to suggest its removal so that she is fully perfect and without flaw. I hate the word ‘tolerate’ and ‘tolerable’ and all the other off-springs, it sounds like such an effort. “Oh, I’ll tolerate them”. “We should learn to tolerate them.” Tolerate is the wrong word, it doesn’t imply that the person wants them/it there, but will bear through the pain because they are ‘good’ people. I HATE IT!

Why should it grow more and more intolerable, shouldn’t you grow to love everything about your partner, not hate it. What makes everyone ‘imperfect’ is what makes us unique and individuals, there is no such thing as ‘perfection’, it doesn’t exist and shouldn’t exist. If no one was unique, then we would all be the same, and that would be extremely boring, being ‘different’ is what life is all about, you should never try to be someone else, or aspire to be someone else, you should always be yourself, no matter who you are, you are amazing and one of a kind, embrace your ‘imperfections’ and your ‘oddities’ and love yourself!

This is a horrible man, love your wife, no matter what, a birthmark doesn’t make her ugly! You are sad, and now she is sad too. An interesting dream! Her birthmark is irremovable, and if you try you would have to kill her because it is connected to her ‘heart’. This man is so stupid, removing the birthmark won’t make anything different and if it does, it is fake. You can tell she is fully in love with him, she is willing to risk everything just so he will think her beautiful, even if she will die. Either that or she is plain stupid too, but let’s go with the love thing. “doubt not my power” not at all overconfident and egotistical, sure have faith in your abilities, but humility is a great trait. Aminadab is a smart man, one who is not foolish and materialistic, maybe his own appearance has clues to why he does not desire perfection, but he is way smarter than Aylmer! Alchemists, a bunch of fools, and yet we still seem to have the pull towards trying to find immortality for us all, which is plainly stupid. Stop and think for a moment, how immortality would even work. Not the science, but our day to day lives. How would the world cope, if no one died of old age, when it is struggling to survive with 7 billion+ people now? Immortality still won’t make us happy, sure we can fit more things in, do whatever we want, but that isn’t the point, we have already a long life 80 odd years to fill with things. But we choose to fill most of them with trivial and pointless things. When instead we should fill them with lasting memories and have fun!

He is completely mad! Can he not see the love she has for him, and yet he still tries to perfect her, ignoring her love. If he stopped trying to remove the birthmark and actually embraced it, he would be in love and they would both be happy! He doesn’t love her, if you try to change the person you are with, you don’t love them, you’ll love what they turn into, not who they are. The liquid will fail alright! It works, and does indeed remove the mark, but ends up killing her. A terrible and costly lesson to us all.

The story contains again a wonderful message, many short stories do and they convey these morals better than an epic saga, which deals with many trials and tribulations, when the short story can only deal with one. There are a few ideas though that are ‘discussed’. One about perfection being unattainable. That is try as hard as we can, beauty is never perfect, nothing is ever perfect no matter how hard you try, sometimes we can come close, but other times we just fail miserably. Another idea is that we should accept our appearance, and that of the ones we love, and to do otherwise is foolish and leads to nothing but pain and not happiness. I’m sure there could be further depth, but this is not needed.It is a fantastic short story, that has a message that is more relevant now than when it was written. Today we are plagued with ideas of perfection and beauty and body image, which are all superfluous and superficial. Love yourself and love every part about you.

Tomorrow will be by final post of 2011 and will be a single post containing my thoughts on a couple of stories I have read during the year, but have not previously blogged about, enjoy!


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