Essay about Hawthorne's Jewels of Life

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Deadly and helpful, science is a dual-edged sword. Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the first to emphasize this through his literary works. “Rappaccini's Daughter” and “The Birthmark” are two of his works where he teaches this lesson through the trials of his characters. Focusing on the motif of the “mad scientist”, Hawthorne brings to light the points that people struggle with humanity, learning to love themselves and others, and that science can be more harmful then helpful.
Humanity is defined as the quality of being humane. This is something that people struggle with on a day to day basis. Hawthorne shows these struggles through his characters. Giovanni, the main character in “Rappaccini's Daughter”, shows this through being shallow in his love for Beatrice. Throughout their relationship, Giovanni faces the reality that there is something wrong with Beatrice. He begins to have suspicions that she is poisonous like the flowers in the garden, and this begins to taint the love he has for her: “At such times, he was startled at the horrible suspicions that rose, monster-like, out of the caverns of his heart, and stared him in the face; his love grew thin and faint as the morning-mist; his doubts alone had substance” (1346). Ultimately, Giovanni is left to grieve the death of Beatrice because he did not trust Beatrice, and allows doubt to overcome him. Other literary critics have found this to be truth as well, such as the literary critique on “Rappaccini's Daughter”. Katherine Snipes, the author of Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition, writes, “Giovanni falls from grace not entirely through the machinations of a satanic scientist. ...He falls not because of Beatrice's evil nature, but because of his own shallow capac...

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...reader who takes the time to pick up these works and peruse them shall find a gem worth more then any physical item waiting for them.

Works Cited

Eckstein, Barbara. “Hawthorne's “The Birthmark”: Science and Romance as Belief.” Studies in Short
Fiction 26.4 (1989): 511-519. Literary Reference Center. Web. 20 November 2011.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Rappaccini's Daughter.” The Norton Anthology: American Literature 7th ed. Vol. B. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: Norton, 2007. 1332-1352. Print.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “The Birthmark.” Ed. Nina Baym. 1320-1332. Print.
Snipes, Katherine. “Rappaccini's Daughter.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition 2004:
1-3. Literary Reference Center. Web. 20 November 2011.
Snipes, Katherine. “The Birthmark.” Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition 2004: 1-2.
Literary Reference Center. Web. 20 November 2011.

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