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Although "The Birthmark" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was written in the mid-1800s, its themes and ideas are still a part of society today.

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Introduction

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? The themes in this short story-- religion, gender, and science--were relevant in Hawthorne's day, and still are many years later. ...read more.

Middle

In today's society we still battle this idea; is perfection attainable through science? Maybe people think that it can. Thousands have cosmetic surgery performed every year as a way of trying to make themselves more beautiful. Religion has taken a step back in society today, so the significance of perfection by God has also been moved to the back burner. But, underlying all the surgeries performed today, is the question: Is it right to change what was given to you by God? Perhaps, but it is not without consequence. Many cosmetic surgeries require painful recovery time or follow-ups, and even some may be dangerous to one's health. Hawthorne's gender bias reflects his times, naturally, but they are slightly exaggerated in this story. ...read more.

Conclusion

Many women have overcome this, but there remains a gender bias in the workplace, politics, athletics and many other areas. With time, hopefully, people will come to realize that women are indeed equal to men, and deserve to be treated the same. The scientific theme in "The Birthmark" is obvious from the start. Aylmer's obsession is rooted in science. The dilemma is responsibility vs. possibility. There is a possibility that the birthmark can be removed, but it is the responsibility of Aylmer, as a husband and a scientist, to make sure that it won't harm Georgiana. Aylmer forgets his responsibility and loses Georgiana because of it. Scientific knowledge is indeed power, but Hawthorne seeks to remind us that with power comes a need for control and self-restraint. Scientific discoveries and the responsibilities behind them ...read more.

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