Compare and contrast Aylmer's views about nature in "The Birthmark" and Sylvia's views about nature in "A White Heron"?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Alymer, an adult, is almost cold and calculating when it comes to nature.  He believes that nature is to be molded and changed that imperfections should be perfected.  His failed experiments show that he has not accomplished his goals, and his assistant as well as Georgiana know that beauty is not in perfection but the acceptance and the ability to look past small imperfections to the spiritual beauty of the thing itself.  Alymer attacks the birthmark on Georgiana's cheek as if it would not allow him to love her, whereas she always considered it her good luck charm and the touch of an angel giving her blessing to Georgiana's life. Alymer's obsession with perfection and "playing God" causes him to fail at yet another experiment in that Georgiana dies as a result. 

Sylvia is a true child of nature.  Her name is derived from sylvan--a Latin root meaning "woodlands".  She is completely at home in the country where she lives.  She rarely sees other people, but when the hunter comes, she enjoys his company. She has mixed feelings since he is hunting the heron and Sylvia alone can lead him to the bird.  She knows it means death to the bird, but he offers money which her family needs, and an opportunity at friendship that she has been lacking.  True to her nature...her connection with the woods and her surroundings is stronger. She does not give up the nesting place of her beloved heron.


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The Birthmark

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