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Beauty and obsession figure prominently in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1843 story The Birth-Mark. Georgiana is a dazzlingly beautiful young woman who happens to have a birth mark on one cheek. Rather than marring her appearance, the birthmark is thought of as part of her unique beauty by many of the men who admire her. Georgiana’s husband, however, is not of the same mind as his fellow men. He dislikes the birthmark, and, as time passes, grows ever more disgusted by it. Saddened and ashamed by her husband’s obvious unhappiness with her appearance, Georgiana decides to undergo a dangerous operation to remove the mark. Will she be able to win her husband’s desire once again? Or will she pay too high a price in her quest for the perfection that her husband expects? A fascinating fable, especially for our own image-obsessed day and age, The Birth-Mark is sure to provoke thought in any reader.
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Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) was a pivotal figure in American literature, part of the innovative and imaginative group of writers and thinkers who brought about the "American Renaissance" of the nineteenth century. Born in New Hampshire, Hawthorne was raised by his mother and other relatives after his father died while overseas. Hawthorne was sent to college, but preferred his family home. Once he returned there after graduation, he retreated to his own quarters and dabbled in writing, although he did not publish any of these early pieces. After marrying, Hawthorne brought his family to Massachusetts, where he held a steady job at the Salem Custom House to make ends meet. In later years Hawthorne again took up writing and published his masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter, in 1850. The novel was well-received, and Hawthorne's legend as a master of fiction had been established. He went on to write such classics as The House of the Seven Gables and The Marble Faun, continuing to earn the favor of the American and international reading public. To this day, Hawthorne's works are beloved for their unique and haunting nature, exploring both dark and lighter aspects of American history, psychology, and landscape.Back to top
Opening Lines (Experimental)
In the latter part of the last century there lived a man of science, an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy, who not long before our story opens had made experience of a spiritual affinity more attractive than any chemical one. He had left his laboratory to the care of an ...Back to top
Reviewed by smithtinikka on Mar 1, 2009
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