Comparing Wreck Of Time And Hawthorne's The Birthmark

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How to cope with the finality and ubiquity of death seems to have prompted the writing of both Annie Dillard’s “The Wreck of Time” and Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark.” The emotional aspect of death present in both pieces speaks volumes about the human condition. In Dillard’s piece, she solicits her audience with developing a conscience for those who have passed before those living today, reporting overwhelming statistics that encircle the conscience of her audience. Conversely, in Hawthorne’s piece, he confronts the theme of death by identifying death as the ultimate mortal fear. His main character, Aylmer, represents the human psyche that irrationally fears mortality and sees the concept as “imperfect” (Hawthorne 4). For the blemish on her face,…show more content…
From Hawthorne’s piece, he employs Aylmer’s manic point of view and, occasionally, Aminadab as a second interpretation of death. However, Hawthorne’s piece does not approach the topic nearly as diversely in its perspective as does Dillard. Albeit this, Aminadab serves as an integral part of Hawthorne’s story. Since the birthmark represents mortality, Aylmer represents the human perspective of acceptance of death, his explaining, “If [Georgiana] were my wife, I'd never part with that birthmark” (Hawthorne 5). Contrarily, Dillard implies from a non-religious or innocent perspective that a certain detachment from death helps people cope with its reality, wherein acceptance is not a prime factor at defeating the fear of death. Dillard achieves this feat when she describes astounding figures of people’s dying to her daughter to which she replies that it is easy to imagine so many people drowning at once. “Lots and lots of dots, in blue water,” she says (Dillard 52). However, there also lingers the human curiosity of death in Dillard’s prose, further adding to the list of humanly reception of the concept. She asks, “Why do we find it so supremely pertinent, during any moment of any century on earth, which among us is topsides? Why do we concern ourselves over which side of the membrane of topsoil our feet poke?” (Dillard 52). In her quote,…show more content…
While a person can die in so many ways, there are even more ways to interpret that individual’s death whether that interpretation takes shape as a divine deciding of fate or as an unfortunate and random occurrence. While both pieces undertone some form of the human condition, from one side of the literary spectrum Hawthorne writes about death as a manifestation of fear—one’s attempt to defeat death and become immortal. On the other, Dillard explicitly confronts the emotions concerning death—how humans oftentimes disconnect from hard-to-cognize principles. Either way, death is inevitable. Dillard explains, “We arise from dirt and dwindle to dirt” (56). The disease of fate and time spilled into the cosmos long before the existence of humans; it cares naught for their

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