Excerpt from Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne
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.
The story begins in the dwelling of the scientist Aylmer and his
bride, Georgiana, but shifts to his laboratory as the center of activity. This
shift is significant, for it removes their relationship from the realm of the
domestic, where Georgiana holds influence, to the arena of scientific endeavor,
in which Aylmer dominates. He has created a "boudoir" where Georgiana will reside,
an artificial environment that functions as a controlled setting for a laboratory
experiment. Although this setting might be a "pavilion among the clouds," excludes
sunshine, the natural light that sustains life. (49)