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Essay Nathaniel Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter

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Nathaniel Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter

 
     American author Nathaniel Hawthorne has been described as a "realist" and

one who assesses the American character within the plot lines of his novels. 

His story, Rappaccini’s Daughter, follows this style.  Its scenario encompasses

the main character of Giovanni Guasconti, a young student who is studying at the

University of Padua in a southern region of Italy.  It is Giovanni’s first time

away from home and, being of limited resources, must rent an old, dismal, and

run-down apartment.  It does however overlook a beautiful garden belonging to a

Doctor Giacomo Rappiccini who cultivates it daily with his daughter, Beatrice. 

Throughout the course of time, Giovanni falls in love with Beatrice and his

courting of her consists of extensive daily walks through the garden.  However,

he soon finds out that Rappaccini is no ordinary doctor; the garden he nurtures

is of no ordinary shrubbery, but rather one large scientific experiment on

medical cures that houses the world’s most poisonous plants.  He also discovers

that Beatrice, being raised around such toxins, has been contaminated herself;

both her breath and her touch are venomous.  As if that wasn’t enough, Giovanni

realizes that the time he spent with Beatrice is having the same effect on him.

 

    The events in Rappaccini’s Daughter are of such romantic fiction that one

wonders about the meaning behind them.  Is the purpose of this story to merely

entertain?  Remember that a common characteristic in Hawthorne’s novels is his

evaluation of people; their personalities, character, and relationships with

o...


... middle of paper ...


...s to change her, and that one hits home with just about every reader.  

He tries to fore her into becoming something she’s not and the result is death,

whether can represent death of the body or relationship.  As a result of his

actions, he loses her.

 

     Rappaccini’s Daughter is a story set in the late eighteenth or early

nineteenth century, yet, it can be easily related to the present.  Hawthorne’s

story contains many different dimensions that nearly every reader will be able

to relate to.  He points a finger and shows the reader that the pain we inflict

on others is what we in turn  inflict on ourselves.

 

Works Cited

 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel.  Rappaccini's Daughter, included in Heath Anthology of

American Literature; Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, 1998.

 

 

 

 

 



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