illustrated portrait of American author Nathaniel Hawthorne

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What is the characterization of Georgina in "The Birth-Mark" by Nathaniel Hawthorne?

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“The Birth-Mark” is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It was first published in in 1843 and deals with the tragic story of a married couple, Aylmer and Georgiana.

In order to help you characterize Georgiana, it is important to point out that Georgiana is described as very beautiful in the story: she was “nearly perfect from the hand of nature.” Aylmer uses the word “nearly”, as he believes that Georgiana’s only imperfection is a small birthmark on her face. When Aylmer points out to Georgiana that the birthmark spoils her appearance, you can tell from Georgiana’s response that she is not a particularly vain person. She responds by telling Aylmer that “it has been so often called a charm,” which you could interpret as an indication that the birthmark doesn’t really bother her or upset her. You could therefore conclude from this that Georgiana is not a woman who is obsessed with her physical appearance.

However, she is a very sensitive person, as she reacts to her husband’s remark “deeply hurt; at first reddening with momentary anger, but then bursting into tears.” This shows the reader how much Georgiana is trying to please her husband: the fact that there is a part of her body that displeases him is deeply upsetting for her. You could interpret this as an indication that Georgiana is representing the stereotypical perception of a good wife at the time of the story: in those days, women were often seen as the property of their husbands. Their main purpose in life was to please their husbands and to ensure their happiness. As a good wife, Georgiana wants nothing more than to make her husband happy. This is why she begins to hate her birthmark and is keen for it to be removed.

You might also want to mention that Georgiana is an intelligent woman, as we learn that she “turned over the volumes of his scientific library,” which indicates that she enjoyed reading very intellectual books.

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