Essay on the Conflicts, Climax and Resolution in Rappaccini’s Daughter
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The Conflicts, Climax and Resolution in “The Rappaccini’s Daughter”
This essay will analyze Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Rappaccini’s Daughter” to determine the conflicts in the tale, their climax and resolution, using the essays of literary critics to help in this interpretation.
In the opinion of this reader, the central conflict – the relation between the protagonist and antagonist usually(Abrams 225) - in the tale is an internal one within Giovanni between his love for Beatrice and his Puritan belief in the depravity of man. His love for the beautiful daughter blinds him to various indications of her poisonous nature, to the evil nature of her father and to the intent of her father to involve Giovanni as a subject in his sinister experiment. An assortment of lesser conflicts ensue: Professor Baglioni’s battle against Rappaccini; Beatrice’s fight against her father; Beatrice’s battle against her power to kill and in favor of the power to love, etc.
The tale takes place in Padua, Italy, where a Naples student named Giovanni Guascanti has relocated in order to attend the medical school there. His modest room is in an old mansion watched over by the landlady, Dame Lisabetta, a two-dimensional character given to religious expletives like, ``Holy Virgin, signor!'' She seeks to make the customer content with his lodging; she answers Giovanni’s curiosity about a garden next-door: ``No; that garden is cultivated by the own hands of Signor Giacomo Rappaccini, the famous doctor. . . .”
Giovanni in his room can hear the water gurgling in Dr. Rappaccini’s garden, from an ancient marble fountain located in the center of the plants and bushes; of particular interest to Giovanni is “one shrub i...
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... Beatrice dies, “the poor victim of man's ingenuity and of thwarted nature,” at the feet of her father and Giovanni. The catastrophe is that everyone loses except Beatrice; the doctor loses a daughter and “specimen”; Giovanni loses a lifetime partner and requires isolation from people as Beatrice did; Baglioni loses an intelligent student; even the landlady loses a renter.
Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” ElectronicText Center. University of Virginia Library. http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/browse-mixed-new?id="HawRapp"&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public
Kazin, Alfred. Introduction. Selected Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Fawcett Premier, 1966.