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The Birthmark, By Nathaniel Hawthorne Essay

1284 words - 5 pages

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 though, to the effect that Georgiana being born with this peculiar birthmark had set in motion an order to her life, already preconceived, like she expected something bad to happen. “Not even Aylmer now hated it so much as she.” Georgiana begins to want the birthmark gone just as much as her husband does. No matter if this want was because of her husband’s manipulation, she wanted it and was willing to go through anything to have it disappear.
The second reason science should be allowed to improve a person’s looks is because of need. Georgiana says, “Either remove this dreadful hand, or take my wretched life!” Georgiana needs to get her birthmark removed or die in order to make her husband happy, which in her mind was life threatening and a persuasive argument. In this time period, there was a need to be the best wife. Unlike today, need is based on life threatening surgery or improvement of an illness in regards to changing a person’s looks. One example, is being transgender, and needing the surgery to be the correct gender. Though this may not be life threatening, it can mean the difference between suicide or self expression.
There are no quotes in the short story that apply to transgender people but there were...

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