Are there any ways that Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" is different from other short stories during the time period?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" is somewhat different from other texts of the period. Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote during the Romantic period. That said, "The Birthmark" falls into a subcategory of Romanticism: Dark Romanticism or Gothicism. 

Typical Romantic texts contained references to imagination, nature, the idea of the noble savage (the unrestrained), and individualism. "The Birthmark," while Romantic, is Gothic in nature as well. Not as much "direct" attention is given to nature. In fact, Alymer tries to control nature by getting rid of Georgiana's birthmark. Since she is born with it, her birthmark should be considered a part of her nature. By removing the birthmark, Alymer goes against nature and Georgiana pays the price--with death. The imagination is highlighted in regards to Alymer thinking about how to get rid of the birthmark. That said, the text is about the love between Alymer and Georgiana--not a life alone (at least not until after the death of Georgiana will Alymer be alone). 

While many Romantic texts dealt with death (like Emily Dickinson's "Because I could not stop for Death"), many others tended to look at the more grotesque aspects of human life (such as texts by Edgar Allen Poe and Hawthorne). Georgiana's birthmark is disgusting to Alymer. He wants nothing more than to rid both him and Georgiana of the mark. This mark is made out to be horrific and disturbing--typical of the Gothic text. 

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