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In the two short stories, the setting of the plays takes place in the twentieth century era. The Birthmark talks about the psychological impacts affecting the sexual relationships between couples (Hawthorne, 2007). Georgiana’s husband Aylmer is sexually frustrated by her birthmark. In his dream Aylmer informs the wife that he deems best to get rid of the birthmark (Hawthorne, 2007). The only problem with doing such a thing is that Georgiana has to die because her birthmark is linked directly to her heart (Hawthorne, 2007). In Ralph Ellison’s Battle Royal, it talks about a young black man who is great at public speech but humiliated by the white people because of their racial views. The young man views himself as invincible due to the fact that the community has refused to acknowledge his presence even after he trends on the lower side of the city and engages in unscrupulous activities such as stealing electricity from the Power Company and simultaneously burning close to 1400 bulbs (Ellison, 2010).
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The main character in the Battle Royal prefers to remain underground and mysterious. This is due to the fact that the narrator decided to finally remain unnoticed because he is obliged to honor and respect the anonymity and retain his true identity (Ellison, 2010). In so doing, the narrator does not stand a chance of ruining his societal responsibility. In The Birthmark, Aylmer is a scientist by profession who believes that science is the only solution to human problems. This is evident because he wants to get rid of his wife’s birthmark despite the health risks involved (Hawthorne, 2007). By doing so, Aylmer tries to change the forces of nature by trying to alter the wife’s destiny. Georgiana is viewed as her husband’s experimental lab rat. She agrees to be part of Aylmer’s cosmetic experiments but in the end; it turns out to be one of the wrong decisions she made (Hawthorne, 2007). Aminadab is Aylmer’s laboratory assistant. Her character is described as burly and is a symbol of the physical, earthly and erotic personality, which has been split apart from the scientific obsessions of Aylmer (Hawthorne, 2007).
In The Birthmark, Georgiana is a symbol of humanity, which has a good side and an evil side. According to Hawthorne (2007), the birth mark symbolizes death that results from human imperfection. Getting rid of Georgiana’s imperfection, which is the birth mark led to her demise. The birthmark is also a symbol of sexuality. The red color of the birth mark led to Aylmer falling in love with his wife and the lack of sexual control when he is near her (Hawthorne, 2007). Aylmer discriminates the wife and treats her as an experimental object because of her birthmark. This form of discrimination is common in the middle class where women are considered inferior to men. The Liberty Paints plant in the Battle Royal symbolizes the American community and how they view the various races (Ellison, 2010). The plant represents freedom and liberty but in the long run, there is a part of it that is deeply rooted to racism in almost all its operations (Ellison, 2010). Here discrimination is brought about in the form of color. The white man regards the black man as their slave and play toy. In the real sense, most black people are more of achievers unlike the white people but because of color, they become discriminated.
The theme of racism is evident in the play Battle Royal. The invincible man tries to portray the troubles and tribulations a black person encounters in a racially prejudiced white society (Ellison, 2010). The narrator finds himself traversing more than society including the Liberty Paints plant and the brotherhood and each tries to come up with their perspective of how the blacks in the society ought to adhere to the societal rules (Ellison, 2010). An important theme in The Birthmark talks about science versus nature (Hawthorne, 2007). The untouched nature seems more powerful than any manmade scientific discovery. Georgiana’s natural talent of singing in most cases restores Aylmer’s good moods when science fails him because her voice is natural and full of passion (Hawthorne, 2007). On the other hand, Aylmer does not have the capability to prolong the wife’s lifespan but instead, he has the power to make good deeds from what nature provides (Hawthorne, 2007). According to Hawthorne (2007), the birthmark on Georgiana’s body is a powerful tool of nature, which arouses and captivates the people who see it. Aylmer was one of the people who is carried away by the sight of the birthmark and therefore his attempts of using scientific means to remove the birthmark results to unhappiness and sudden passing away (Hawthorne, 2007).
In conclusion, both stories address the issues a community faces especially the minority. Racial discrimination manifests itself in the modern society and I happened to be a victim of such. Due to the fact that I am black, a large number of people in the society tend to discriminate and degrade me. In school, my friends call me all sorts of names and they go to an extent of excluding me from certain extra-curriculum activities such as sports. In class, the teachers often ignore my existence because they focus more on the white children’s performance. I became a social outcast, which resulted to my poor performance in school and also my social lifestyle became worse. The experience I learnt from such discrimination is that one ought to rise above what other people perceive, make good use of their time and improve themselves. I learnt that the thoughts of other people are used to destroy one’s self esteem and in the end, becoming a failure. Rising to the occasion and proving everyone wrong enabled me to become noticed and also regarded an important person in our community. My friends in school also learnt how to appreciate me as well despite the racial differences.