Nathaniel Hawthorne

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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. 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. The theme of religion is hidden in the desire to erase the birthmark. In trying to "perfect" Georgiana, Aylmer is testing God's creation. He doesn't believe that how God created Georgiana is perfect, and he is obsessive about making her his idea of perfection. Aminadab, Aylmer's servant, tries to tell his master to leave the birthmark alone. He tells Aylmer that if Georgiana were his wife, he wouldn't worry about something so trivial. However, the scientific ideas on Aylmer's mind won't let him forget the birthmark. He believes he can remove it with the help of science. Even so, science has no part in creation, according to Hawthorne, and Georgiana's death after the removal of the birthmark signifies that theory. Her death is Hawthorne's way of showing that judgment and perfection are God's duties--not man's. In today's society we still battle this idea; is perfection attainable through science? Maybe people think so—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...
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