Explain two possilble morals or lessons to be learned from Alymer's failed experiment.

Expert Answers
lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order for you to answer this question, you must ask yourself:

  1. What do I believe is the theme of this story?
  2. What is my moral compass?
  3. What is the meaning of the birthmark?

Here's why. In order to come up with a moral, you must define your own morals. Once you think about this, then you have to examine what you think the story means. See the link on eNotes below for three examples of what the theme might be, i.e. "Romanticism and the Ideal," "Science vs Nature," or "Gender and Sexuality." Or, you may believe, as I do, that there are additional themes to this story.

When one examines Hawthorne's themes in the body of his works (including novels - remember, he is the one that wrote The Scarlet Letter), one finds that many of his writings were moral allegories and that he was a Puritan. This means a literal interpretation of the Bible. So you cannot rule religion out when you are dealing with Hawthorne.

So, while one or all of the above three themes may be true, they are not going to help you with coming up with a moral untill you define your own moral stance.

I will offer you my personal opinion of this story from a Christian world view. I do not believe the birthmark to be an evil sign. I believe it to be symbolic of human uniqueness. Since I believe that every human being is created in the likeness of God, and Christian teaching (Puritan, as well, as was Hawthorne) states that every human is "fearfully and wonderfully made," then Alymer's attempt to remove the birthmark was evil and a result of sin. Moral? Don't mess with God's creation! When God looks at something and says, as he does in the Bible when he creates man, "It is good," then Alymer is sinful to think he can improve on God's work. He has the sin of pride. Moral? Pride goes before the fall. God punishes him because his beautiful wife dies. Georgiana is Alymer's Tower of Babel. When the people tried to build the tower to be like God, they had their language confounded. Moral? When you try to be like God, you perish. Also consider the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve wanted to be like God, they ate the forbidden fruit, and they were banished from Paradise. Sin entered the world. Moral? Again, when you try to be like God, you perish. Alymer tried to be like God, and his wife perished, and he was deprived of her love. Moral? Man is not perfect. Only God is perfect.

There are a few morals for you, but they are MY morals.

See what YOU think - read the story at the link below and the discussion of the themes right here on eNotes.

melissa1106 | Student

Two possible lessons to be learned are to appreciate what you have and if you push the limits too much, they may push back. Alymer did not appreciate his wife and he was so fixated on fixing her imperfections that he did not like her for herself. Also he pushed her limits too far that the solution that removed her imperfection killed him.

Read the study guide:
The Birthmark

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