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Hawthorne’s Quest For Perfection Essay

1045 words - 5 pages

Women in today’s world use many scientific measures to look young, beautiful, and perfect. Some women even undergo surgeries to perfect their bodies. True natural beauty comes from within one’s self and not what is on the outside. While critics argue that Hawthorne’s “The Birth Mark,” “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment,” and “Rappaccinni’s Daughter” stand as an overt commentary on nature vs. science, Hawthorne actually uses these works to explore personal familial connections.
First of all, these three short stores deal with nature and science, but when one delves deeper into the stories, it becomes apparent that Hawthorne actually explores relationships among family members. These three works of writing portray Hawthorne’s thematic writing pattern of the past affecting the present and the future. In “The Birth Mark,” the fear of isolation is clear, and while certain decisions can be made (nature vs. science), any path the character takes will affect familial connections. The theme of “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” is quite similar except that it deals with old age. Usually people in their old age are considered wiser, while younger people are considered folly or foolish. The main character in this story struggles with the relationships created and destroyed by age. In “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” Dr. Rappaccini is a scientist that commits his life to transforming plants into medicine. Yet the theme of the story actually revolves around the relationship that the doctor’s daughter and Giovanni Guasconti form. As the strange relationship escalates the ambitions of both her father and Giovanni eventually lead to her death. Life’s lessons can be gained from reading about the traumatic relationships in these three stories. It seems as if Hawthorne was trying to say that even nature vs. science can have an effect on people’s hearts, minds, and furthermore, their relationships with those close to them.
Next, Hawthorne writes these three short stories using familial connections, but at the same time, he emphasizes on sexuality, the human heart, and the effects of science on nature. For example, In “The Birth Mark,” Hawthorne writes about a woman named Georgiana and her birthmark on her cheek. This actually symbolizes what goes on in his own life with his wife, Sophia. Hawthorne’s wife Sophia had a miscarriage and it caused him to undergo a “sexual panic and arrestment” (Marshall 38). When Hawthorne wrote “The Birth Mark,” it was written to disguise “sexual anxiety as cosmetology” (Marshall 38). This coincided with the virginity of women. Women who lose their virginity have a crimson stain hence the crimson birthmark on Georgiana’s cheek. Meanwhile, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” focuses more on the human heart. Beatrice and Giovanni truly love each other even though they cannot physically be together. Even at her death she wants to save Giovanni. While she wants to save Giovanni, Hawthorne states, “he remains trapped in the situation that her death allows her to escape”...

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