Ignorance Is Bliss: Hawthorne and Atwood on Love and Death

Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endings” and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark” are clearly different narratives. divergent in secret plan. manner. construction. and puting. Hawthorne’s piece. written in 1843. references a desire for flawlessness in a clip when flawlessness felt executable. On the contrary “Happy Endings” . as Atwood smartly titled the narrative in 1983. explores the basic sufferings of love after the sexual revolution of the 1970’s. Despite the distinguishable differences between the two. “The Birthmark” and “Happy Endings” maintain a similar honestness towards love and decease. Although these novelists have virtually nil in common spare their love for the written word. these narratives both have successfully written about how worlds handle romantic relationships while disregarding or dissembling the mortality of worlds.

While the two writers portion a connexion through their position of humanity’s battle with love and decease. their narratives reflect contradictory secret plans. In “The Birthmark” characters Aylmer and Georgiana. a late married twosome. are presented. Aylmer. “a adult male of science” . is determined to repair the little blemish staying on his wife’s cheek. In the terminal. this really destroys her life but does non destroy Aylmer’s decide to accomplish excellence despite killing his married woman. “Happy Endings” . on the other manus. trades straight with the simplest worlds of love. sex. and everything in between. The lone certainty is that Atwood’s two chief characters. John and Mary. meet ; after this there is no clear reply. merely a assortment of scenarios that all end the same manner. “John and Mary dice. John and Mary dice. John and Mary die” ( 626 ) . Atwood and Hawthorne manage to show common subjects irrespective of the differences between their narratives.

Atwood and Hawthorne both utilize the manner a woman’s mind works to uncover how relationships may blossom. In a part of Atwood’s piece. Mary is “Run-down” and “Hurt” ( 625 ) by a deficiency of emotional connexion to her spouse. John. The character is used and ignored by John. her hope of true love and felicity slice and finally. Mary commits suicide. Similarly. in “The Birthmark” . Hawthorne describes Georgiana as “A healthy though delicate bloom” ( 421 ) at first. but as the narrative advancements Georgiana becomes unsettled and dying ; she becomes so troubled that at the reference of her nevus she “Shrank as if a juicy Fe had touched her cheek” ( 426 ) . Besides profoundly affected by the adult male in her life. Georgiana lost herself in the possibility of being approved by him. Lynn Shakinovsky points this out in her article “The Return of the Repressed: Illiteracy and the Death of the Narrative in Hawthorne’s ‘The Birthmark’” stating: “It is hence every bit much a merchandise of Georgiana’s vision as Aylmer’s that the remotion of the grade consequences in her decease. For Georgiana every bit good as for Aylmer. the grade is all at that place is” ( 269 ) . In this manner. the two writers sharply illustrate the thought that adult females are controlled by how work forces perceive them.

Along the same impression. there is a distinguishable focal point on interpersonal communicating and thoughts in respects to romantic relationships. In the assorted possibilities Atwood lays out in “Happy Endings” . most if non all are centered on perceptual experience. “John and Mary autumn in love” . “Mary falls in love with John but John doesn’t autumn in love with Mary. ” and the narratives unfold consequently. Zach Woodsen. in an analysis of the narrative. remarks that the characters are “dull and undeveloped” ( 1 ) . doing it more obvious how general these perceptual experiences are by the authorship manner presented. It is really apparent in Hawthorne’s Georgiana. who felt flattered by the suers who called her nevus “A charm” and that it came approximately by “some faery at her birth hour” ( 421 ) . but because her husband’s sentiment was warped by his scientific enterprises. her beauty was overlooked. doing her self-perception to be likewise altered. Atwood and Hawthorne show how worlds may specify themselves based upon what another single thinks of them and how this can act upon affairs of the bosom. even if the person’s thought is distorted.

Through the two narrations it becomes clear how these characters are influenced by the fright of decease. Aylmer is driven by his fright of it. his inducement for taking the grade on Georgiana’s cheek being his personal reminder and symbol for imperfectness. The description in Atwood’s narrative seems to indicate straight at decease. associating. “The terminations are the same nevertheless you slice it” ( 626 ) . Woodsen references her verbal ferociousness in his article with equal honestness. “ . . . At the terminal of every person’s life. regardless of how they lived it or what they experienced. they will meet decease. Atwood notices that people tend to non believe rather similar this” ( 1 ) . While Atwood is so captive on indicating out the ignorance of the characters. and hence world in general. Hawthorne reveals it more subtly ; he focuses on how the fright of decease really caused his married woman to go through as Aylmer was so captive on making “The perfect hereafter in the present” ( 431 ) . Through different avenues Hawthorne and Atwood both shed visible radiation on the perceptual experience of decease and the concealment of its inhuman treatment.

In covering with matrimony. the two authors seem to expose differing degrees of cognition on the topic but have clear thoughts on the function that matrimony plays in motivations and developing trust. Hawthorne and Atwood address the purposes of matrimony that may be marred by personal addition ; Hawthorne describes Aylmer as get marrieding with the hope of “intertwining [ love for his married woman ] with his love of scientific discipline. and uniting strength of the latter to his own” ( 421 ) . likewise. all of Atwood’s possibilities of marriage seem affected by convenience over fondness. In add-on. the twosomes in their several narratives could be confident in their relationship due to the impure motives behind them. With the exclusion of Option A. the lone existent happy stoping Atwood provides. all of the scenarios given show mistrust and insecurity in the characters. in some instances to the point of decease. Georgiana could ne’er experience safe with Aylmer in “The Birthmark” as his chief focal point remained to take the cicatrix that defined her.

Particularly in the range of matrimony the narratives suggest the adversity of being in a new relationship. Atwood’s portraiture through her characters showed how nonreversible relationship necessarily stop in catastrophe. that everything affecting love is about interchangeable because the jobs are so common in modern civilisation. Atwood even pokes merriment at the complications of love and narratives when she writes. “If you believe this is all excessively bourgeois. do John a radical and Mary a counterespionage agent” ( 626 ) . In “The Birthmark” . Aylmer and Georgiana had merely been married when the narrative begins and as the narrative and their matrimony progress the jobs brought on at the beginning lasted throughout. Liz Rosenburg remarks about Hawthorne’s motivations for composing in a manner of uncovering the jobs frequently associated with honeymooners. mentioning in her article. “The Best the Earth Could Offer: The Birthmark. A Newlywed’s Story” . that the narrative was penned shortly after Hawthorne’s matrimony to his married woman Sophia and hence: “It remains clearly a newlywed’s narrative. fresh with the author’s anxiousnesss. hopes. and fears” ( 145 ) .

There are certain challenges that are frequently associated with new love. Atwood and Hawthorne confront those jobs openly and uncover how a bug can upset the balance of the relationship. Both writers besides manage to propose the concern for a fading passion. permanent physical attractive force being something important to a successful relationship. demoing how a deficiency of desire can drive people apart. At the really get downing in Hawthorne’s narrative. Aylmer studies to his married woman his contempt for her nevus. stating. “ . . . This slightest possible defect. which we hesitate whether to term a defect or a beauty. dazes me. as being the seeable grade of earthly imperfection” ( 421 ) . Similarly. in Option C of Atwood’s narrative. Mary begins seeing with John because she “ . . . Feels sorry for him because he’s worried about his hair falling out” . so Atwood boldly continues. “She slumbers with him even though she’s non in love with him” ( 625 ) . The basic inherent aptitude of attractive force between two people is non something to be tampered with. peculiarly when emotions are involved as the authors point out.

The reaction to decease and death in the narratives besides reveal something about humanity’s character. In “The Birthmark” Aylmer is so happy to hold momently succeeded he ignores the decease of Georgiana and continues to concentrate on his ain brief achievement. Shakinovsky. in her article. points out the unnatural felicity Aylmer felt at his wife’s decease. “The erotism of Georgiana’s decease brings together the unacknowledged rousing. repugnance. and murderousness nowadays in both of them” ( 269 ) . Similarly. Atwood’s characters have a warped reaction to decease. In Option B. Mary kills herself with the hope that John would deliver her. but he neither rescues nor mourns her decease alternatively get marrieding person else and traveling on. In Option C. John is driven by green-eyed monster and putting to deaths Mary. Mary’s lover. and so himself. In this scenario. John had been married but his married woman. as Atwood writes. continues life without reaction. “Madge. after a suited period of mourning. marries an understanding adult male called Fred” ( 626 ) ; the phrasing of this sentence leads Atwood’s audience to believe that Madge merely waited out of duty and non true sorrow. disregarding the deepness of the state of affairs.

Atwood and Hawthorne show how a distorted reaction to demise is common in the human household. frequently characterized by a turning to decease for respite or being unable to mourn those who have passed. Over a century apart and in wholly different societies. Atwood and Hawthorne still pull off to cover the same stuff including two of the most hard subjects of human being. Populating in Puritan New England in the 1800’s. Hawthorne was a radical in footings of progressive storytelling. construction. and manner. He wrote utilizing subjects that were tabus for his clip period and because of this his authorship is considered singular down to this twenty-four hours. Atwood. conversely. wrote “Happy Endings” in the 1980’s merely after the sexual revolution. when what were deemed household values began to be considered out-of-date. Despite this. her authorship is besides thought to be provocative given the unfeelingness of her linguistic communication and advanced manners ; Atwood is besides an alleged revolutionist. By sharply undertaking what seemed disgraceful and violative. Atwood and Hawthorne addressed the two most common subjects of humanity in a fresh manner that will go on to do them as authors stand out for centuries to come.


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