For over 150 years, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birth-Mark has captivated critics and readers alike. Dr. Aylmer, the protagonist, undertakes to remove a blemish from his wife Georgiana’s cheek to satisfy his own spiritual strivings and to redeem what he sees as a failed career.
Since the mark bears a red tint, it disappears almost entirely when she blushes but stands out starkly when her face is pale. The mark is shaped like a tiny human hand, as if a fairy had touched her cheek upon birth.
Many of Georgiana’s lovers had admired the mark, but others called it a devilish sign that destroyed her beauty and rendered her hideous.
Alas, her husband finds himself in the latter group after they are married. He views the mark as "the symbol of his wife's liability to sin, sorrow, decay, and death". It begins to cause him horror, which Georgiana recognizes in his gaze.
One of his finest short stories, Hawthorne colors his tale with suggestions of the supernatural, and his work is known to have had a strong influence on the writings of H. P. Lovecraft among others.
NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE (1804-1864), one of the greatest authors of the nineteenth century, transformed the art of fiction. The author of numerous novels and short stories, including The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables, he was an acknowledged master of the form, and admired for his explorations of ancestral sin, guilt, and the concept of justice.