What are the attitudes of the young medical school student in Hawthorne’s tale, “Rappaccini’s Daughter,” toward women; of the author toward women; of other characters in the story toward women? Are women involved in basic plot development? This essay intends to answer these and other questions about women in the short story.
Beatrice, Dr. Rappaccini’s daughter, is the prime motivating force in the story. Giovanni’s love for the beautiful daughter, mixed perhaps with pride, 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 the protagonist as a subject in his sinister experiment.
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 female character given to religious expletives like, ``Holy Virgin, signor!'' She, as a very normal woman, is impressed by the student’s handsomeness and thus seeks to impress him:
``Holy Virgin, signor!'' cried old Dame Lisabetta, who, won by the youth's remarkable beauty of person, was kindly endeavoring to give the chamber a habitable air, ``what a sigh was that to come out of a young man's heart! Do you find this old mansion gloomy? For the love of Heaven, then, put your head out of the window, and you will see as bright sunshine as you have left in Naples.''
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. . . .” She then proceed...
... middle of paper ...
Kazin, Alfred. Introduction. Selected Short Stories of Nathaniel Hawthorne. New York: Fawcett Premier, 1966.
McPherson, Hugo. “Hawthorne’s Use of Mythology.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Stewart, Randall. “Hawthorne’s Female Characters.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Sullivan, Wilson. “Nathaniel Hawthorne.” In New England Men of Letters. New York: Macmillan Co., 1972.
Swisher, Clarice. “Nathaniel Hawthorne: a Biography.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Williams, Stanley T. “Hawthorne’s Puritan Mind.” In Readings on Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Clarice Swisher. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1996.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Stifled Women in The Yellow Wallpaper, Rappaccini's Daughter, and Beloved A connection can be drawn among the stories listed above regarding women who live as prisoners. Beatrice, of Rappaccini's Daughter, is confined to a garden because of her father's love of science, and she becomes the pawn to several men's egos. The woman of The Yellow Wallpaper is trapped by her own family's idea of how she should conduct herself, because her mood and habit of writing are not "normal" to them. Sethe, of Beloved, carries the burden of her past and also the past of all slaves.... [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]
2746 words (7.8 pages)
- Since the beginning of time, it has been a common idea that men are superior to women. Throughout many texts over the course of the past few thousand years, it can be seen that female characters are not as intelligent or strong as men. Women must try to live up to unattainable standards of beauty, while seemingly being predisposed to making bad decisions and having a great deal of responsibility. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s works build upon this theme and shed light the idea that females are inferior to males, which ultimately shows a feminist point of view.... [tags: Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Gender]
1671 words (4.8 pages)
- The Role of Women in Rappaccini's Daughter, The Prophetic Pictures, Lady Eleanor's Mantle, and The Birth-Mark When researching criticism on Hawthorne's works, I ran across an interesting piece that dealt with the feminist view of "The Birth-Mark." The article, written by Fetterly, explores the relationship between Aylmer and his wife, and how this relationship is a typical male-dominated situation. Although there is the fact that the story deals with the failure of the scientist, there is an underlying current here of how Aylmer views his wife: in a negative manner. This view towards women can be seen in several of the works of Hawthorne's - among them "Rappaccini's Daughter," "The Pro... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
1290 words (3.7 pages)
- The Women of Young Goodman Brown, The Birthmark, and Rappaccini’s Daughter In his short stories, "Young Goodman Brown," "The Birthmark," and "Rappacciniâs Daughter," Nathaniel Hawthorne uses his female characters to illustrate the folly of demanding perfection in the flawed world of humanity. Although Hawthorneâs women appear to have dangerous aspects, they are true of heart, and thus, they cannot be fully possessed by the corrupt men who seek to control them. Hawthorne endows each of his heroines with both light and dark elements.... [tags: Young Goodman Brown YGB]
1968 words (5.6 pages)
- Finding the Heart in Rappaccini's Daughter In Hawthorne's short story, "Rappaccini's Daughter", Rappaccini is ostensibly a cold, calculating scientist. A pure scientist who would willingly give his daughter, himself, or whatever else most precious to him "for the sake of adding so much as a grain of mustard seed to the great heap of his accumulated knowledge" (1641). This leads most to believe that Rappaccini lacks any emotion and concern for his "scientific subjects" and their desires.... [tags: Rappaccini's Daughter Essays]
915 words (2.6 pages)
- Love in the Male Dominated Society of the 1800's in Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter "Rappaccini's Daughter" is a strange tale, kind of an early pseudo-scientific short story, that focuses on the life of Beatrice and her bizarre nature. The result of a twisted experiment, she must find happiness within the walls of a garden her father has created for her. Although her life depends on a fatal poison, she defines her soul as "God's creation, and craves love as its daily food" (2131). This paradox creates a powerful story as the mortal Giovanni falls in love with the deadly Beatrice.... [tags: Rappaccini's Daughter Essays]
853 words (2.4 pages)
- The Ambiguity in “The Rappaccini’s Daughter” The literary critics agree that there is considerable ambiguity in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Rappaccini’s Daughter.” This essay intends to illustrate this statement and to analyze the cause of this ambiguity. Henry James in Hawthorne mentions how Hawthorne’s allegorical meanings should be expressed clearly: I frankly confess that I have, as a general thing, but little enjoyment of it, and that it has never seemed to me to be, as it were, a first-rate literary form.... [tags: Rappaccini's Daughter Essays]
3345 words (9.6 pages)
- “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is a gothic tale written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1844. It was included in his collection of short stories called Mosses from an Old Manse. At this time he was forty years old and had been married to Sophia Peabody for two years. “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is considered to be one of the most timeless tales ever written. The tale starts off with a young man, Giovanni, who comes to Padua to pursue his studies at the University of Padua. He rents a room in a “high and gloomy chamber” above a magical and poisonous garden.... [tags: Rappaccini's Daughter Hawthorne Analysis]
1982 words (5.7 pages)
- Puritanism and Romanticism differ in style, religious references, and plot content. Puritanism began to flourish with strict God-fearing Calvinists who had fled to America to escape religious persecution in Europe. With writers such as William Bradford and Edward Taylor, Puritan literature focuses on God's role in the lives of the people and adopts a simple religious style of writing. Romanticism was introduced to Americans in the nineteenth century, delivering a fresh literary and artistic style.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
1142 words (3.3 pages)
- Rappaccini's Daughter and The Birthmark How are experiments done without the use of guinea pigs to help us learn and understand what is being studied. Everyday lab animals, such as mice, are used in experiments as guinea pigs because they provide similar reactions in comparison to the human body. Thus, mush knowledge of science is gained through guinea pigs. However, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic stories "Rappaccini’s Daughter" and "The Birthmark" rather use humans to test their scientific studies.... [tags: Science Experiments Ethics Essays]
802 words (2.3 pages)
- Twelfth Night Essay: The Necessity of Cross-dressing
- Symphonic Imagery in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights
- Interweaving Characters and Surroundings in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights
- The Theme of Hawthorne's Young Goodman Brown
- Importance of Wuthering Heights and Thrushcross Grange
- Importance of Setting in Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights