Symbolism in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark"

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark is a story wrought with potent symbolism and destructive irony. It is the story of a cerebral scientist's imprudent and superficial endeavor, and the all too trusting wife that had faith in him. This short story provides us with a moral allegory and theme that is universally vital through symbolism. The crimson hand-shaped mark bestowed upon the otherwise perfect face of a beautiful woman contains much meaning. Through his use of …

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…possess one living specimen of ideal loveliness without the semblance of a flaw...Aylmer discovered that this was the case with himself." (262) Through his use of symbolism, Hawthorne addresses the issues of science and manipulation, humanity's flaws, and mankind's mortality. Moreover, the tale takes us through a love story and shows us how humanity's flaws can be looked at in numerous ways. It's the way one reacts to the flaw that ultimately determines its fate.