What is the theme of "The Birthmark"? Alienation, initiation, problem of guilt or pride?

2 Answers

devval23's profile pic

devval23 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

You could explore the theme of human imperfection or limits as it pertains to Alymer's alchemical over-reaching. Also, you might want to refer to Pygmalion myth and also Frankenstein as they explore a similar theme. A close reading will reveal the conflict between 'nature' and 'spiritual world'-a world travelled by many Romantic authors-British and American. Hope that helps!

she1818's profile pic

she1818 | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

A major theme is the presumption of the scientist that he can make human nature/ human form 'better.'  Why does Alymer think he can improve on nature? What makes him find his wife's birthmark ugly? YES-- this kind of attitude leads to alienation...and when she dies--it will also lead to guilt!  The pride that the intellectual or scientist takes in his (or her) work may lead to a downfall.