Essay on Darwin and Gamble's Debate

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Darwin and Gamble's Debate

Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark" gives a human face to Darwin and Gamble's academic debate concerning natural selection. In the story, Georgiana has a birthmark on her cheek that has been visible her entire life, but was just starting to agitate her husband, Aylmer. He used science to successfully rid his wife of the birthmark, but the procedure was fatal. The process that the couple went through appears to be a response to the theory of natural selection, with her death as the ultimate conclusion. This essay will examine the theory, the story, and the link between them.

While Darwin and Gamble's theses contain multiple arguments and have multiple conclusions, the most important of them is the
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He bluntly says "man has thus become ultimately superior to woman." (Darwin 6). Despite his lack of scientific training, and despite the other theories of evolution that were prominent in the mid 19th century, natural selection remains a very important theory, and is often used as the benchmark when other theories are evaluated. It is elegant in its simplicity, but clearly biased in its application to the course of human events. Granted, the bipolar view was considered popularly acceptable in the Victorian era, but by polarizing his view of humanity and considering men to be naturally superior to women, he has brought in another, and less important, dimension to his argument. It is this artificial dimension that Gamble disagrees with so passionately.

Gamble's work is mainly a response to Darwin's, but it has more value than just argumentative jingoism. She says, "in his zeal to prove the superiority of man over woman, and while emphasizing energy, perseverance, and courage as factors in development, Mr. Darwin seems to have overlooked the importance of distinctive characters belonging to the female." (Gamble 4). There are two ways to read this quote. The first, and most obvious, is that she disagrees with Darwin's views. However, if we look more closely into what she is saying, we see that her true argument is that natural selection has caused women to be superior to men. This is profound because she agrees with the concept behind Darwin's views, just not with the

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