VARIOUS TEXTS: 'A Beautiful Young Woman' by N. Hawthorne (part one)

A Beautiful Young Woman

This is part one; if you want to understand what the message of the story is, you'll have to read part two, too (next page)

Part One
During the last part of the eighteenth century there lived a man of science. One day he left his laboratory because he had found a beautiful young woman who became his wife. Aylmer loved his young wife very much, but his real passion was science and the mysteries of Nature.

One day, very soon after their marriage, Aylmer stared at his wife with a worried expression.

"Georgiana," he said, "did you know that the mark on your cheek can be eliminated?"
"No, I didn't," she said smiling. "People have called it a charm, and I believed it."
"Perhaps on another face it could be a charm, but not on yours. No, dearest Georgiana, your beauty is almost perfect. But I hate that birthmark."
"You hate it!" exclaimed Georgiana, who started crying. "Then why did you marry me? You cannot love me if you hate my birthmark!"
In the center of Georgiana's left cheek there was a strange red mark. It had the shape of a very tiny human hand. In the past young men had liked the tiny hand. They said a fairy had put her tiny hand on her beautiful cheek. Some envious young women said that it destroyed Georgiana's beauty.

Before their marriage Aylmer did not think about the birthmark. But now it had become a frightening obsession. Georgiana's beauty was almost perfect and he could not tolerate this defect. It was an imperfection of Nature. It was Nature's way of showing that we are only mortals.

Their happiness was ruined by this birthmark. When Aylmer woke up in the morning and opened his eyes, the first thing he saw was Georgiana's crimson mark. When they sat together by the fire in the evening, his eyes always looked at the birthmark on Georgiana's cheek. It was the mark of her imperfection.

Georgiana shuddered when Aylmer looked at her. And the pink color of her cheeks turned white and the little red hand became more evident. It looked like a red ruby on a white stone. Late one night Georgiana said, "My dear Aylmer, do you remember anything about a dream you had last night — a dream about this horrible little hand?"

"No, I don't!" replied Aylmer, who was surprised. But then he added coldly, "Maybe I did dream about it, because before sleeping I thought about the hand."
"And you dreamed about it," continued Georgiana, who was almost crying. "It was a terrible dream. How can you forget it? How can you forget this sentence: `It is in her heart now and we must take it out!' Do you remember the dream?"

Aylmer now remembered his dream. He dreamed that he was with his servant Aminadab. He was trying to remove the red birthmark. But as his knife went deeper into the cheek, the little hand went deeper and deeper. At last the little hand caught Georgiana's heart and Aylmer wanted to cut it away.

When he remembered the dream clearly, Aylmer felt ashamed. The truth often comes out in our dreams. Until now he did not realize that the birthmark had had a terrible influence on him.

"Aylmer," continued Georgiana seriously, "What can we do to eliminate this birthmark? Maybe it will cause a deformity, or perhaps the mark is as deep as life. But can we eliminate it forever?"

"Dearest Georgiana, I have thought about this a lot. And I am sure it can be eliminated."
"Oh, then please do it! I am not afraid of the risk because life with this birthmark is awful. Either eliminate it or take my life! You are a great man of science. All the world knows you. I am certain that you can do it. Please save me from madness."

"My dear wife," cried Aylmer, "don't worry. I have thought about this problem very much. I am certain that I can make your cheek as perfect as the other. I know I can correct this error of Nature and my happiness will be great."

"Then the problem is solved," said Georgiana.
Her husband kissed her right cheek which was perfect.
The next day Aylmer told his wife about his plan. "We will both live in the apartment which I used as a laboratory when I was young."
He had made important discoveries in that laboratory, and he had learned about the mysteries of Nature and the universe. Georgiana was frightened when Aylmer took her to the apartment. He looked at her happily, but the birthmark on her white cheek made him shudder and Georgiana fainted.

"Aminadab! Aminadab!" shouted Aylmer violently.

A short, robust man with long hair came out of another room. This strange man had been Aylmer's assistant for many years. He did not understand scientific principles but he followed instructions and did his job well.

"Georgiana has fainted! Quickly, open the door and burn a special candle," cried Aylmer.
"Yes, master," answered Aminadab, looking at poor Georgiana. Then he said to himself, "He should never eliminate that birthmark!"
Aylmer was at his wife's side` when she woke up.
"Where am I? Ah, I remember," said Georgiana quietly. And she put her hand over her cheek to hide the terrible mark from her husband's eyes.
"Don't be afraid, dear Georgiana," he said. "It will be a pleasure to remove it."
"Oh, please, do not look at it again. I can never forget that terrible shudder."
To help Georgiana forget her problem, Aylmer tried to entertain her. He showed her a little plant that grew slowly before her eyes. When a lovely flower appeared Georgiana exclaimed, "It's magic! I won't touch it."
"No, you can touch it! Pick the flower and enjoy its perfume." But when Georgiana touched the flower the plant died immediately and its leaves became black.
Then Aylmer decided to create her portrait on a piece of metal. He used a scientific process that he had invented. The result was frightening because the portrait was difficult to see, but the birthmark was clearly visible. Aylmer was angry and threw the piece of metal away.

He soon forgot these failures and continued studying science and making experiments. He often went to Georgiana and told her about the mysteries of science and about the history of alchemy. He told her that science could do many incredible things. And it could easily remove the little hand from her cheek.

When Aylmer mentioned the birthmark Georgiana was always very unhappy.
Aylmer worked many hours in his laboratory with the help of Aminadab. One day he showed his wife a small crystal ball.
"What is this?" asked Georgiana, looking at the small crystal ball with a gold-colored liquid. "It is very beautiful. It looks like the potion of life."
"In one sense it is. It is the potion of immortality. It can prolong life or destroy life."
"Why do you keep such a terrible potion?" asked Georgiana in horror.
"Oh, don't worry, dearest Georgiana," replied Aylmer. "Look at this powerful cosmetic for the skin."
"Are you going to use it on my cheek?" asked Georgiana.
"Oh, no. Your cheek needs something that will go deeper, much deeper."
When she looked in the mirror and saw the red birthmark, she hated it more than anything.
1210 words

I. Go back to the text. Look at the sentences below about Part One. Decide if each sentence is true or false. If it is true, write A as your answer. If it is false, write B as your answer.

Statements True or false
( A or B)
1. Aylmer's only passion in life was science.  
2. The birthmark on Georgiana's cheek was shaped like a diamond.  
3. Aylmer thought Georgiana's birthmark was a charm.  
4. Aylmer had a dream the previous night about Georgiana's birthmark.  
5. In Aylmer's dream, he cut Georgiana's cheek with a knife.  
6. Aylmer told Georgiana that her birthmark could not be removed.  
7. Georgiana didn't want Aylmer to remove her birthmark.  
8. Aminadab didn't know much about the sciences.  
9. Aminadab thought it was a good idea to eliminate the birthmark.  
10. When Georgiana touched the flower, it died and its leaves turned black.  
11. Aylmer created a beautiful portrait of Georgiana which didn't show her birthmark.  
12 The crystal ball in Aylmer's study contained the potion of immortality.  

II. Look at these sentences:
Before I went out, I changed my clothes.
Before going out, I changed my clothes.
After the words before and after, we can use a gerund.

Rewrite the sentences below so that they have the same meaning as the first. Be sure to use before or after and a gerund in your answer.

1. Aylmer worked all night on his experiment. He was exhausted.

After ____________________________________________________________________________ .
2. Hawthorne lived in Salem. Then he moved to Concord.

Hawthorne lived __________________________________________________________________ .
3. Let's have dinner. Then we can go to a movie.

Let's have dinner ________________________________________________________________ .
4. I went to sleep after I did my homework.

After ____________________________________________________________________________ .
5. Bill worked every day for 6 months. He took a vacation afterwards.

After ____________________________________________________________________________ .
6. I'm going to practice the piano. Then I'm going to call my friends.

Before ____________________________________________________________________________ .
7. Aylmer gave the magic potion to a plant. Then he gave it to Georgiana.

Before ____________________________________________________________________________ .

III. Odd one out
Circle the word that doesn't belong in each line. Then say what the three remaining words have in common.

1. stare - look - eye - see

2. clearly - angry - slowly - immediately

3. terrible - incredible - passion - perfect

4. happiness - imperfection - immortality - failure

5. beautiful - young - deformity - perfect

6. cheek - eye - skin - heart

7. crystal - ball - potion - charm knife

8. faint - shudder - hide - worried

9. coldly - frightened - seriously - happily

IV. Now put the words into the correct place in the table below.

nouns adjectives verbs adverbs




V. Look at the picture on page 44 and answer the questions below.

1. Where are the two people in the picture?

2. Describe how they are dressed.

3. How do you think the woman is feeling?

4. What is the man thinking about the woman?

5. What impression does this picture give you?

Source: from pp. 43:

amazon.de Stories of Suspense
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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