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The Absolute Power of Men in a Patriarchal Society Essay

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  The time setting of the short story “The Birth-Mark” was the eighteenth century, a quite difficult era for the lives of women. In a journal published by Helga Madland, it was mentioned “Since the Graeco-Roman period, women had been perceived as inferior to males in the social hierarchy;..”(pg167). The low status of women in the society has been a big issue in the eighteenth century as reflected in the story “The Birth-Mark” written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. In this story, the unevenly distributed power between male and female eventually result in tragedy of women. “The Birth-Mark” by Hawthorne clearly proves that masculine power always dominates.
  Hawthorne started the story by introducing the protagonist Alymer as a “man of science”(290). His prominent creations in the laboratory helped him earn the reputation of a brilliant scientist. He was capable doing many things with his knowledge of science, such as making poisons, bottling magical scents and removing physical flaws on women’s faces. His outstanding accomplishments in the scientific field shaped his authoritative position in the scientific field as a male. His real existence is limited to the science laboratory since most part of the story take place in the lab room. People started making strong connections between Alymer and the power of science due to his achievements in the scientific community. Gradually, Alymer, a representative of other males, became a symbol of science. He, as a man, shows a strong desire to control women through the title of “Scientist”. His ability to change the physical appearance of women is what brings him gratification and confidence. Man is always standing in the supreme position and has the ability to decide the fate of a woman by change t...


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...nd “there needed no proof”(300) because she totally trust her husband and is willing to give up her life into loving her husband. Women in the eighteenth century choose to obey everything their husband said, they voluntarily bow to the power of their men because of love.


Works Cited

Achilles, Jochen. "Purgers and Montaged Men: Masculinity in Hawthorne's and Poe's Short Stories." Amerikastudien / American Studies 43.4, Engendering Manhood (1998): 577-92. JSTOR. Web. 15 May 2014.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Birthmark. Logan, Ia.: Perfection Form, 1972. Print.

Madland, Helga. "Three Late Eighteenth–Century Women's Journals: Their Role in Shaping Women's Lives." Women in German Yearbook 4 (1988): 167+.JSTOR. Web. 15 May 2014.

Zanger, Jules. "Speaking of the Unspeakable: Hawthorne's "The Birthmark""Modern Philology 80.4 (1983): 364-71. JSTOR. Web. 15 May 2014.


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