Aylmer says to his wife, "Even Pygmalion when his sculptured women assumed life, felt not greater ecstasy than mine will be." How does this literary allusion to the myth of Pygmalion enhance the meaning of the birthmark? Is this allusion ironic given what happens to Aylmer's project to make his wife perfect?

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Pygmalion, from Greek mythology, is a sculptor and woman-hater who basically sculpts his perfect woman and then falls in love with her.  He is miserable and cries over her, and Aphrodite takes pity on him and brings his sculpture, Galatea, to life so that she and Pygmalion can be together. ...

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Pygmalion, from Greek mythology, is a sculptor and woman-hater who basically sculpts his perfect woman and then falls in love with her.  He is miserable and cries over her, and Aphrodite takes pity on him and brings his sculpture, Galatea, to life so that she and Pygmalion can be together.  When Aylmer compares himself to Pygmalion, it is really indicative of his incredible pride.  He did not "create" his wife, Georgiana, but he seems to feel that his victory in removing her birthmark (her one "flaw") will be even sweeter than Pygmalion's was when his perfect Galatea came to life.  This allusion, then, lets the reader know just how much hubris Aylmer has; his estimation of his own talents is so ludicrously high that he puts them on par with a goddess.  Further, it foreshadows that things are not going to go well with his experiment because things never go well for mortals in Greek mythology who think they are as powerful as the gods.

The allusion certainly is ironic given the fact that he cannot perfect his wife.  Pygmalion is humbled by his love for Galatea and is so grateful when he is given the chance to love her and be loved by her.  However, Aylmer is so proud that he cannot realize how lucky he is to have and be loved by Georgiana.  And so he throws away his chance to be with a woman that everyone else sees as perfect because he is too fixated on her imperfection and his own desire to bask in the victory of rendering perfect something that God could not. 

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