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What is the theme of "The Birthmark"? Alienation, initiation, problem of guilt or pride?

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goldie123 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 26, 2010 at 3:43 AM via web

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What is the theme of "The Birthmark"? Alienation, initiation, problem of guilt or pride?

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devval23 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 26, 2010 at 6:04 AM (Answer #1)

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You could explore the theme of human imperfection or limits as it pertains to Alymer's alchemical over-reaching. Also, you might want to refer to Pygmalion myth and also Frankenstein as they explore a similar theme. A close reading will reveal the conflict between 'nature' and 'spiritual world'-a world travelled by many Romantic authors-British and American. Hope that helps!

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she1818 | College Teacher | eNoter

Posted June 26, 2010 at 10:38 AM (Answer #2)

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A major theme is the presumption of the scientist that he can make human nature/ human form 'better.'  Why does Alymer think he can improve on nature? What makes him find his wife's birthmark ugly? YES-- this kind of attitude leads to alienation...and when she dies--it will also lead to guilt!  The pride that the intellectual or scientist takes in his (or her) work may lead to a downfall.

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