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Now and Then: A case study of 19th century literature and medicine - Essay Example

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In Hawthorne's The Birthmark, Georgiana's death by her philosophic husband's effort to cure her off her birth mark is treated in a manner which echoes with the Renaissance idea of the essential conflict between man and nature. Hawthorne presents the invincibility of the birth mark and gives it a tone of finality which was synonymous to fatalism of pre-modern medical sciences…
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Now and Then: A case study of 19th century literature and medicine
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Download file to see previous pages This inability of man to transcend his immediate physical condition was partly due to ignorance and partly due to the stringent social norms. The world which Hawthorne portrays, the likes of scientific minded men were either looked upon in awe or given an evil nomenclature. The reason was simply because of the lack of scientific awareness of the ages. Even if in today's world scientists remain ambiguous regarding the grouping together of blood vessels in pre-natal babies, something which is generally held as the reason for the occurrence of birthmarks in children, we can guess what the situation was in older times when the birthmark was seen more of a divine action inexplicable to mere mortal beings. The idea is reiterated in the story in the episode where Georgina feels that she is dying due to the diminishing of her good luck charm. The birthmark is thus given a moral implication, a sort of a divine barrier which man should best leave alone. The scenario is definitely different in today's world. The advent of laser surgery has not only made it possible to remove birthmarks, but also do it at a reasonably safer mode.
Prior to the development of laser treatment, red birthmarks could not be treated and were a major cosmetic defect for people born with these obvious birthmarks. However, in today's medical world, greatly improved laser technology has revolutionized the treatment of these birthmarks. Photo-derm is one of the most successful treatments for birthmarks, with a post operative healing time of five to seven days. Compared to the older laser technologies, fewer treatments are now needed. The number of treatments depends on the darkness of the birthmark with darker lesions requiring more treatments. Whereas, the first two to three treatments will produce the most dramatic improvements, most people require at least five treatments for optimal results. Treatments followed by four to eight weeks of rest in between allow the patient to remove the maximum amount of pigment cells. Patients can notice a lightening of the lesion after each treatment as the body disposes of the pigment cells. Interestingly, most birthmarks lighten by at least seventy five percent; where as some may lighten by even up to ninety five percent.
Georgina's death, as a result of her husband's 'will for perfection' could not only have been avoided today, but she could have been cured of her birthmark.
The matter in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins is much complicated. Barbara A. Suess sees the symbols as an agent to overcome the lack of Lacanian "Imaginary" language beyond the "Symbolic Order" or what cannot be symbolized. Thus every fragment of her unique sense of the self is a mosaic of reactions to the "Wallpaper" and within the "dead paper" of her journal where she uses masculine utterances to give vent to her silenced self. Hence she can only grapple at visual details that correspond to the vague images of her mind that has only found a corresponding "objective correlative" in the wallpaper. Suess calls this her attempt to "create a new order" (Suess, 84). The wallpaper is the canvas where she objectifies herself. The "patterns" of her condition when projected subjectively with expressionistic ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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