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Rappaccini's Daughter - Ambiguous Essay

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Rappaccini’s Daughter   -  Ambiguous    


Hawthorne’s Rappaccini’s Daughter is a Gothic romance and a thwarted, almost-allegory with a plethora of ambiguous meanings. As Hawthorne identifies in the previous quote, this story is a blatant parallel towards the story of Original Sin. The issue, then, lies in the representation. Who is playing Adam and Eve? Who is Satan and who is God? At first glance it is easy to assume that the two love birds, Giovanni and Beatrice, are Adam and Eve; while Beatrice’s black cloaked father is Satan, and God is either an omniscient overseer, represented in nature, or absent from the story all together. However, Hawthorne begins the endless possibilities of role assignments by suggesting that Beatrice’s father, the diabolic scientist, Rapaccinni, could be Adam.

"It was strangely frightful to the young man’s imagination, to see this air of insecurity in a person cultivating a garden, that most simple and innocent of human toils, and which had been alike the joy and labor of the unfallen parents of the race. Was this garden, then, the Eden of the present world?---and this man, with such a perception of harm in what his own hands caused to grow, was he the Adam?" (1232)

Hawthorne’s "Rappaccini’s Daughter" is a Gothic romance and a thwarted, almost-allegory with a plethora of ambiguous meanings. As Hawthorne identifies in the previous quote, this story is a blatant parallel towards the story of Original Sin. The issue, then, lies in the representation. Who is playing Adam and Eve? Who is Satan and who is God? At first glance it is easy to assume that the two love birds, Giovanni and Beatrice, are Adam and Eve; while Beatrice’s black cloaked father is Satan, and God is either an omniscient ov...


... middle of paper ...


...y evil character as Iago and to simultaneously be compared to a type of Christ.

"Rappaccini’s Daughter" contrasts nature to science. Rappaccini and Baglioni are scientists, Giovanni is studying it and Beatrice is a victim of it. Nature, in it’s romantic form, does not exist in this tale. Rappaccini’s garden is about as natural as walking into the plastic flower department of a craft store and commenting on the bold colors and illustrious blooms. It might look magnificent from the window of Giovanni’s abode, but it was crafted by man, not nature. Rappaccini takes "nature" a step further by making something as natural and pure as life, twisted and synthetic. Nature has become perverse and contorted by science.

Works Cited:

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Rappaccini's Daughter, included in Heath Anthology of American Literature; Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, 1998.


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