At the end, Georgiana dies; Aminadab, representative of all that's gross and tainted, laughs in triumph; and Hawthorne-and Georgiana-offer judgments of Aylmer's folly. Aylmer failed to appreciate that "the best the earth could offer," is necessarily tainted with mortality, but that, as the ending of the tale suggests, it may be possible to find the "perfect Future in the present" by abandoning a pursuit of the ideal, noble as that pursuit might be. One thinks, at this point of Owen Warland, the artist from "The Artist of the Beautiful" and the "far other butterfly" he finds that, in the end, brings him a kind of peace.
"My poor Aylmer!" she repeated, with a more than human tenderness. "You have aimed loftily!--you have done nobly! Do not repent, that, with so high and pure a feeling, you have rejected the best the earth could offer. Aylmer--dearest Aylmer--I am dying!"
Alas, it was too true! The fatal Hand had grappled with the mystery of life, and was the bond by which an angelic spirit kept itself in union with a mortal frame. As the last crimson tint of the birth-mark--that sole token of human imperfection--faded from her cheek, the parting breath of the now perfect woman passed into the atmosphere, and her soul, lingering a moment near her husband, took its heavenward flight. Then a hoarse, chuckling laugh was heard again! Thus ever does the gross Fatality of Earth exult in its invariable triumph over the immortal essence, which, in this dim sphere of half-development, demands the completeness of a higher state. Yet, had Aylmer reached a profounder wisdom, he need not thus have flung away the happiness, which would have woven his mortal life of the self-same texture with the celestial. The momentary circumstance was too strong for him; he failed to look beyond the shadowy scope of Time, and living once for all in Eternity, to find the perfect Future in the present.