The Birthmark


Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Sunlight Symbol Analysis

Sunlight Symbol Icon

In this story, sunlight represents nature and its influence. Aylmer lights his laboratory with chemical lamps and does not allow sunlight in, which demonstrates his worship of science and scorn of nature’s power. At the end of the story, he finally parts the curtain and allows “the light of natural day” to fall on Georgiana’s face. Acting also as a symbol of clear insight, the sunlight illuminates Georgiana’s death, showing the triumph of nature as Aylmer faces the grave consequences of his desire to use science to alter the natural world.

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Sunlight Symbol Timeline in The Birthmark

The timeline below shows where the symbol Sunlight appears in The Birthmark. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Birthmark
Science, Nature, and Religion Theme Icon
Fatal Pride Theme Icon she might be in an enchanted room in the sky. Aylmer does not allow sunlight into his laboratory because it would ruin his experiments, so he instead uses chemical lamps... (full context)
Science, Nature, and Religion Theme Icon
Perfection Theme Icon
Aylmer pulls back a curtain, and sunlight falls on Georgiana’s cheek. He hears Aminadab laughing and congratulates him on their mutual success,... (full context)