Essay The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Essay The Birthmark, by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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What extent should science go to in order to “improve” people’s looks? In the short story, “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the birthmark symbolizes morality that every living thing is flawed in some way and perfection can’t be found on earth. Though this is true, people have the right to seek perfection, and what happens after they think they attain it, is their business. The character Aylmer is a scientist, and his wife Georgiana has a small birthmark on her cheek in the shape of a hand that is barely noticeable. Other men find it charming, but Aylmer convinces Georgiana to let him remove the birthmark for his own peace of mind, then she dies. However, despite how freak accident that may seem, today medical practices are safer than they used to be. Science should be allowed to go all the way in order to improve people’s looks because of want, need and to reflect society as a whole.
The first reason that science should have permission to improve people’s looks is because of pure want. It would be against the law to prevent somebody to getting their pursuit of happiness, even if it’s a boob job. I think one of the reasons Georgiana wanted to remove the mark is because she “soon learned to shudder at his gaze.” I know how terrible it must be to have somebody look at you strange because you are different. Just like how people get a rhinoplasty to escape racial binaries. But in this story both people wanted perfection, in order to please the other. Aylmer was not a bad husband, despite his wants for perfection, he only mixed his control over nature with a control over his lover. When people want something, they will go to the ends of the earth to get it, and that’s just how the cookie crumbles. It seems like foreshadowing ...


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...because of want, need and to reflect society’s ideals. Until the end of time, mankind will try to perfect everything, scientific or not. It is a race to be better just like the Cold War. In the end, nobody is better or less than anybody else. But, if getting a little Botox makes a person feel better, so be it. Even in the end, Aylmer treated Georgiana like a science experiment, but perhaps the moral is to just accept yourself. Either way, if you can’t accept what you were born with, definitely change it. Well, that’s life, and not a law can prevent the world from turning, nor can it prevent human nature from hindering life. So, let science keep doing it’s thing, inventions and improvements of the body will be around until the end of time.


Works Cited

"The Birthmark." By Nathaniel Hawthorne. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. .

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