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Passages Relating to Alienation in "The Birth-mark"

Criticial Commentary Relating to Alienation in "The Birth-mark"

Portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Charles Osgood, 1840
Portrait of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Charles Osgood, 1840 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, Gift of Professor Richard C. Manning, Acc#121459)
 
  • Excerpt from Hawthorne and Women Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition Ed. John Idol and Melinda M. Ponder (courtesy of University of Massachusetts Press) (Excerpt taken from the introduction to the bibliography)John Idol and Melinda Ponder clearly imply that it is Aylmer's discontent with his mortal bride, Georgiana, that leads to her demise.

  • Excerpt from Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne by Melissa McFarland Pennell (courtesy of Greenwood Press) In showing that Hawthorne connects Aylmer to alchemy and sorcery, Melinda Pennell draws our attention to his overriding intellectual pride, one that leads him to believe he will someday penetrate the very secrets of life. This alienating pride, this fascination with potentially dark forces, suggests a connection between Aylmer and Old Mother Rigby, the artist-witch of "Feathertop."

  • Excerpt from Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne by Melissa McFarland Pennell (courtesy of Greenwood Press) In this passage Melissa Pennell makes clear that Aylmer's obsession with perfection has driven him from the possibility of heartfelt sympathy with Georgiana, and probably with anyone else. Like many of Hawthorne's artist or intellectuals, Aylmer is alienated.

  • Excerpt from Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne by Melissa McFarland Pennell (courtesy of Greenwood Press) Melinda Pennell's suggestive observations on the setting of "The Birth-mark" help the reader see that the world in which Aylmer is most comfortable is one lacking connection both to common domestic comforts and to the life-giving light of the sun, further evidence of his alienation.

  • Excerpt from Hawthorne: A Life by Brenda Wineapple (courtesy of Knopf Press)
    Wineapple discusses the "deadly ambivalence about women and, more broadly, sexual bodies and fatherhood" that permeates the stories Hawthorne wrote in the years just after his marriage and in this excerpt asserts that one of those stories, "The Birth-mark," is, in a sense, "a fantasy of abortion" (pp.174-175).

  • Excerpt from "The Meanings of Hawthorne's Women," lecture delivered Dr. Richard Millington, Smith College. at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site on September 8, 2000
    Dr. Millington points out that "The Birth-mark" is one of a number of Hawthorne's stories that presents male characters as rejecting "the invitation to full, complex, and human life offered by their female counterparts."

  • Excerpt from "Hawthorne and Melville," lecture delivered by Dr. David Kesterson, University of North Texas, at the Phillips Library, the Peabody Essex Museum on September 23, 2000 (courtesy of the author) In this excerpt Dr. Kesterson discusses the links between Melville's Billy Budd and Hawthorne's story "The Birth-mark."

    Full text of "The Birth-mark"



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