Excerpt from Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne
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.
Aylmer has lost a sense of balance - he has succumbed to the danger
of devoting oneself exclusively to a single principle. In doing so, he has lost
the connection to his heart, the connection that would allow him to sympathize
with Georgiana rather than treat her as an object in an experiment. Hawthorne
does not condemn Aylmer's idealism; rather, he condemns his inability to accept
the truth of human frailty and fallibility, including his own. (51)