What makes a woman beautiful? Is it her eyes, her smile, her hair, her body? Yes, all of these factors contribute to beauty, but beauty in its purest form is found in the heart, mind, and soul. Judging someone solely on looks is superficial. That would be comparable to judging a book by its cover before you even read what it is about. External imperfections, such as a birthmark, should not detract from someone's beauty. In fact, it should enhance the uniqueness of internal beauty. External beauty is a mere additional benefit to internal beauty.
The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a perfect example of the conflict between external and internal beauty. The setting of the story is at a science laboratory. The exterior of the lab is calm, while the interior is murky and cold. The main character, Aylmer, was a scientist and natural philosopher, who devoted his life to scientific experimentation. Everything else in his life would always remain a secondary focus. He was married to a woman named Georgiana. He had an assistant named Aminadab who was at times unsure of Aylmer's reasoning. Aylmer loved Georgiana with undying passion, but this love was inseparable from his love of science.
After a short while, Aylmer discovered that something about Georgiana made him feel uncomfortable. She had a birthmark on her cheek, which grew more and more intolerable to him with every moment. Aylmer viewed this birthmark as a fatal imperfection, making Georgiana temporary, finite, and flawed. The only way for Georgiana to achieve perfection would be to experience toil and pain.
In his destructive pride, Aylmer is convinced that his mastery of science will enable him to remove the imperfect birthmark. With much persuasion, he encourages Georgiana to allow him to experiment on her, attempting to prove his hypothesis that he has the power to change nature. She reluctantly submits to his coercion, assuming that is the