How does "The Birthmark" compare to "A Good Man is Hard to Find"?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

These two short stories can be compared through analysing the central characters of Aylmer and the grandmother. Both are shown to act in ways that result in death to those closest to them, but both are shown to not suspect that they have done anything wrong until it is too late. In "The Birthmark," the figure of Aylmer becomes obsessed with the blemish on his wife, and devotes all of his energy to erasing it. Ironically, his success in erasing the blemish actually ends his wife's life. He is only able to remove it at the expense of losing his wife, as she herself recognises:

Do not repent that with so high and pure a feeling, you have rejected the best the earth could offer. Aylmer, dear Aylmer, I am dying!

In the same way, the grandmother in "A Good Man is Hard to Find" becomes obsessed with going to find her old house, and thus leads her family off the beaten track into the hands of the Misfit, which ends up in their death. The one difference would be one of motive. The grandmother is quite open in the way that she manipulates and tricks those around her to get what she wants. Aylmer becomes so obsessed with the blemish and erasing it that he is unable to see how his obsession is affecting both himself and his wife. Yet in both short stories the two main characters get what they want with tragic consequences.

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A Good Man Is Hard to Find

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