Essay PreviewMore ↓
Scientific research concerning living organisims is usually beneficial. Most
medical practices are beneficial; they are done to cure people from illness and to save
people's lives. The only time when science borders on going too far is when it is used to
alter people or animals -- for instance changing the genes of a fly to give it eyes on its legs.
Making mutants like that violates the sanctity of life, and although it is condonable for
research with flies, to do something similar to humans would be beyond comprehension.
It is clear that Hawthorne does not look favorably upon manipulating humans with
science. He is especially wary about using science to try to make things worse; "Do not
repent that with so high and pure a feeling, you have rejected the best the earth could offer.
... I am dying!" says Chillingworth wife after she is "cured" of her birthmark, a large brown
mole on the upper left side of her right arm.
Chillingworth feels that this experiment is justified because his wife is nowhere near
perfect, withstanding the birthmark. "...upon another arm perhaps it might, but ... you came
so hideous from the hand of Nature that this slightest possible defect, which we hesitate
whether to term a defect or a beauty, shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly
imperfection." If she hadn't been so close to detestment, he would not have minded the
birthmark, but because she is otherwise beastly, the birthmark stands out. Significant is the
use of the phrase "earthly imperfection", which hints at Hawthorne's theme. By removing
Georgiana's "earthly imperfection", Chillingworth is playing God. It is hard to say whether
it was justified in my opinion, even if the experiment had succeeded. If I take the story
literally, and put myself in one of their positions, it might be. But I don't think that this is
what Hawthorne wants us to be concerned with; he wants to show us why it is wrong to try
to change nature with science.
Hawthorne's theme of tampering with nature can easily be applied to society.
How to Cite this Page
"Obsession in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Birthmark." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Imperfections in The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne Too often in this world does man attempt to perfect nature. Tampering with this sort of element most commonly leads to a disaster to come extent. Because man is never satisfied, he is constantly vying for perfection, regardless of the outcome. Such is the case in Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story, 'The Birthmark.' Aylmer's persistent attempt to perfect nature is the cause of Georgiana's demise and the affirmation that when man tampers with such a powerful component terrible things may occur.... [tags: The Birthmark Nathaniel Hawthorne Essays]
884 words (2.5 pages)
- Analysis of The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne Although “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne was written in the mid-1800s, its themes and ideas are still a part of society today. The 19th century was a time of change, just as this, the millennium, is a time of great change. Hawthorne’s ideas about science, beauty, and life still play a major part in our lives, despite many improvements. Even today, people try to play “God” and change things that nature has put in place. It’s human curiosity; how much can be changed, how many things can be perfected.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne The Birthmark Essays]
860 words (2.5 pages)
- Our society tends to be obsessed with the idea of physical perfection. How does our society manifest that obsession. How is the "Birthmark" an early version of our modern obsession with physical perfection. Our society has many ways of manifesting its obsession with physical perfection. In our society people go to extreme lengths to achieve perfection. The "Birthmark", written more than a century ago, is an early version of our modern obsession with physical perfection.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Birthmark]
390 words (1.1 pages)
- Aylmer's Struggle for Perfection in Nathaniel Hawthome's, The Birthmark Aylmer's struggle for scientific perfection transcends human possibility in Nathaniel Hawthome's "The Birthmark." He attempts to perfect that which nature rendered imperfect. When the quest for human achievement opposes divine design it has no chance of succeeding. This key element in Aylmer's twisted love leads to the demise of what he seeks so desperately to perfect, his beautiful wife. Georgianna's "fatal flaw of humanity" (Hawthorne 167), the birthmark, blocks her from perfection in his eyes, and thus blemishes Aylmer's prideful ideals.... [tags: Birthmark Essays]
1996 words (5.7 pages)
- In 1843, “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne was first published in a minor literary journal. It is a dark tale of an eighteenth century scientist’s obsession with a small, hand shaped birthmark on his wife’s face. Although, the mark did not bother him before their marriage, it becomes such an obsession for him and he can not think of anything but it’s removal from her otherwise perfect face. This imperfection and the incurable nature of mortality become the central idea in this story. In The Birthmark,” Hawthorne uses the fictional element of conflict to convey a pervading sense of torment and tragedy in this short story.... [tags: Obsession, Women, Imperfection]
913 words (2.6 pages)
- In “The Birthmark,'; by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Georgiana’s futile attempt to be flawless by cooperating in her own murder doesn’t make her any wiser, especially because such a sacrifice does not earn her closeness with her husband. The character of Georgiana epitomizes the virtues upheld by the conventions of her time; she is beautiful, docile and has no ambitions of her own other than to make her husband happy. In addition to this apparent perfect union is a "singular mark, deeply interwoven, as it were, with the texture and substance of her face" (Hawthorne 11).... [tags: essays research papers]
849 words (2.4 pages)
- First Paper - The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne As human beings, we are NOT perfect. It is part of our nature to be flawed one way or another. But there are some who choose to believe the opposing view. The theme of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "The Birthmark" is how humans fight forcefully against Nature for perfection. It is those humans who, eventually, learn that Nature cannot be changed or revised. Aylmer was a famous scientist and philosopher who achieved great wonders. All his life, he has made remarkable discoveries and won numerous awards.... [tags: English Literature]
1298 words (3.7 pages)
- Noble Love in The Birthmark Often billed as a story of an unsuccessful attempt to beat Nature at her own game, “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne certainly lends itself to a somewhat deeper interpretation. Over the years many scholars have noted that the story of Aylmer and Georgiana is riddled with traditional Hawthorne themes such as the evils of selfishness and pride, coupled with an element of solitariness (Arvin xvi). However, we are want to consider whether Aylmer’s motives in this story are purely selfish. Does this man perhaps deserve a touch of human sympathy? With blazingly obvious symbolism, clearly defined by the author himself, the reader can choose to take t... [tags: Birthmark Essays]
1723 words (4.9 pages)
- In literature it is common to find main characters that display unusual strength or might. Rarely are major literary characters (with the exception of villains) weak figures. Authors typically create strong roles for their protagonists. This is not the case, however, in the short stories "Carnal Knowledge" by T. Coraghessan Boyle and "The Birthmark" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The narrator of "Carnal Knowledge," Jim, and one main character in "The Birthmark," Georgiana, have few outward similarities.... [tags: The Birthmark, Carnal Knowledge]
1200 words (3.4 pages)
- ﻿ A Story of Love and Science A Story of Love and Science Nathaniel Hawthorne is a nineteenth century American Novelist whose works are deeply concerned with the ethical problems of sin, punishment, and atonement (Adams 168). The New England writer also handles the romantic theme very well and is a master of historical fiction. Hawthorne was a descendant of one of the judges at the Salem witch trials, and he set many of his works in Puritan New England and during early crises in American history (Encarta).... [tags: essays research papers fc]
1141 words (3.3 pages)
Hawthorne somewhat overtly makes a comparison between Chiilingworth and his assistant,
Herald. He says that Chillingworth is "pale [and] intellectual", while Herald "seemed to
represent man's physical nature." Herald mutters to himself, "if she were my wife, I'd never
live with myself." This also shows how Chillingworth was playing God; the man who did
not want or need perfection was perfectly willing to keep the birthmark (in fact, he did not
want to part with it at all) but Chillingworth, who always aimed for what was beyond his
grasp, could not live with it. Or perhaps even Herald realized that the birthmark was
Georgiana's earthly tie, that she could not live without it.
With each new technological advance, we try to change nature and society, presumably for
the better. Hawthorne is saying that we should not try to alter nature to make it perfect with
science and technology. Especially so with innocuous things, like his ugly wife's blemish.
Furthermore, the closer we get to perfection, the more obsessed we get with it, and the
more we lose sight of the fact that the innocuous blemishes are just that, innocuous
blemishes. I don't think that Hawthorne had anything against science in general, even
though his descriptions of Aylmer's laboratory were somewhat grotesque. But he is giving
us a warning -- or a reminder -- to not take things too far.