The Birthmark

Nathaniel Hawthorne
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Quotes

Important Quotes Explained

Quotes Important Quotes Explained
1. “[H]ere is a powerful cosmetic. With a few drops of this in a vase of water, freckles may be washed away. . . . A stronger infusion would take the blood out of the cheek, and leave the rosiest beauty a pale ghost. . . . Your case demands a remedy that shall go deeper.”

Even though Aylmer isn’t evil, he is nevertheless despicable and sinister because he considers himself an apt judge of his wife’s moral fiber. In this passage, we see that Aylmer doesn’t merely want to wipe away the physical birthmark on his wife’s cheek. If that were his aim, he would use the “powerful cosmetic” that he claims can wipe away freckles as if they were specks of dirt. Because he has become convinced that the mark is merely the external evidence of some deep moral and spiritual rot, he believes the so-called remedy must be applied internally. As we read the passage, we realize with mounting horror that Aylmer has become a madman. He no longer sees Georgiana’s birthmark as a minor physical defect but as a terrifying symbol of death and sin.