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Tia Castor


Literature Analysis

September 21, 2017

The Birth Mark and The Yellow Wallpaper

The story of The Birth Mark by Nathaniel Hawthorne and The Yellow Wallpaper by

Charlotte Perkins Gilman both have similar characteristics among the two male characters.

Alymer (The Birth Mark) and John (The Yellow Wallpaper) are men who feel like they are

superior and know what is right and what is wrong for both the women. In The Birth Mark,

there is Alymer who is extremely obsessed with removing a hand-shaped birth mark off his

wifes face. He wants to remove something that is natural and he has no control of instead of

leaving it alone and accepting his wife and her flaws, as he would say, he convinced her to let

him remove it for her and eventually killed her. In The Yellow Wallpaper there is John who

does love his wife but acted as though he knew what was best for her and eventually drove her

crazy because he wanted to keep her trapped instead of listening to her. In both cases, instead of

listening and accepting the women for who they are they end up losing them forever. This is

revealed through characterization.

In The Birth Mark, the author uses a descriptive tone, so the readers could get a very

dark sense out of it. In this story Alymer and Georgiana both are the protagonist throughout the

story because they are the more major characters. In this specific story, one would say Alymer is

a man of science who tends to be a control freak someone who wants to play God. One would

also say Alymer is cocky and he feels like he can do anything not knowing what the actual
consequences may be. Georgiana asked him was he sure he would be able to remove the mark

that sat upon her face and he replied, I feel myself fully competent to render this dear cheek

imperfect in her fairest work! (Hawthorne 223). In this quote, it demonstrates how ignorantly

driven he is. As a scientist, who has never performed a procedure like this to feel as though he

can change what nature has already imprinted on someone shows a lot of egotism. To say you

love someone and turn around and play with his or her life not knowing how dangerous the

outcome may be for that person is selfish. One would say that Alymer obsessed over the fact he

could do whatever he wanted to do because he was a scientist. This is evident when he says, Do

not shrink from me! Believe me, Georgiana, I even rejoice in this single imperfection, since it

will be such a rapture to remove it! (Hawthorne 225). In this quote, you can tell how desperate

Alymer is to be able to remove this birth mark. It will be such a joy for him. His characteristics

throughout this text showed he was a hopeless scientist who chose a job he clearly did not know

so well, over someone who was going to make him happy and love him forever.

In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator is a woman whose name was never mentioned

that suffers from depression and anxiety. Even though she feels like something is wrong with

her, her husband John felt like she is perfectly fine and is basically making things up. She says,

If a physician of high standing, and ones own husband, assures friends and relatives that there

is really nothing the matter with one ... (Perkins 317). This quote demonstrates how John is

practically saying nothing is wrong with the narrator, and she is only depressed. During the

Victorian era, it was hard for women to be able to have their own voice because the men felt as

though they knew everything like Alymer did in The Birth Mark. John felt like the narrator

was incapable of knowing what really was going on with her. John is a physician so he feels as

though he knows all the answers to what is going on with the narrator and makes it seem like she
is going crazy. John feels like he needs to fix his wife and the only way to do that is to use the

Weir Mitchells rest cure. Instead of sitting down and listening to his wife he ignored her. It is

so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please! (Perkins 329). This quote

demonstrates the relief the narrator feels when she has finally broken out of the bars she sees

herself in through the yellow wallpaper. Even though throughout the story one can say John

really loved his wife he also was controlling in a way. He made the narrator stay home in a room

while he was out free.

Both John and Alymer in the two short stories The Yellow Wallpaper and The Birth

Mark have similar characteristics. They let their professional ego interfere with their personal

responsibilities for their wives. In The Birth Mark throughout the entire text it makes you

wonder if Alymer was all about science and was more concerned about his own endeavors or did

he really love Georgiana. While, on the other hand, in The Yellow Wallpaper theres no doubt

that John didnt love his wife he just took different precautions to show that. Even though these

men felt as though they were doing what was best for their wives they overlooked what was

more important. They allowed for their crazed physician techniques to cost them their marriages,

and for one, his wifes life

Works Cited

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Birth Mark. The Norton Introduction to Literature, edited by

Kelly J. Mays, W. W. Norton, 2017, pp. 219-233.

Charlotte, Perkins The Yellow Wallpaper. The Norton Introduction to Literature, edited by

Kelly J. Mays, W. W. Norton 2017, pp. 316-330.