Response Paper #2: “The Birthmark”
1. 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.
Society manifests its obsession with physical perfection by having surgical procedures done on daily basis. These surgeries allow for almost any cosmetic transformation. For example a person can have anything from removing a birthmark to inserting breast implants to having a tummy tuck done on their body. Society manifests their obsession with physical perfection by having these procedures done to them. These procedures enable society to achieve “perfection”, much like Georgiana in the “Birthmark”.
In the “Birthmark”, a story that is more than a century old Georgiana and her husband Alymar are searching for physical perfection, much like we do today. In addition they manifested their obsession with physical perfection much like we do today. Georgiana was born with a crimson birthmark in the shape of a hand. This birthmark was on her cheek. One day Georgiana discovers that this birthmark “shocks” her husband and he is deeply bothered by it. Georgiana finally realizes this after Alymar says “Georgiana . . . has it ever occurred to you that the mark upon your cheek might be removed?” After discussing the birthmark several times with her husband, a talented scientist, Georgiana decides to have it removed by him. It is never stated in full detail exactly how Alymar is going to remove this birthmark, we assume that it will be a surgical procedure. At one point in the story Georgina says to her husband “If there be the remote possibility of it . . . let the attempt be made at any risk.” This is the point at which Georgina shows what she is willing to give up to be beautiful, her life! Unfortunately Georgiana dies because of attempting to remove the birthmark.
The story “The Birthmark” is a perfect example of an early version of our modern obsession with physical perfection. Georgiana and Alymar manifested their obsession with physical perfection much like we would today.