Anti-Transcendentalists in Rappaccini's Daughter

Topics: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Transcendentalism, Nathaniel Hawthorne Pages: 2 (393 words) Published: June 9, 2008
Anti-Transcendentalist Literature

In Rappaccini’s Daughter, the idea of obsession is very prominent. Obsession is well pronounced in society as well. But it is also unhealthy to be completely fixated on an object or another person. Transcendentalists agree that obsession is something that should be avoided, and stress the ideal of self-reliance. Nathaniel Hawthorne expresses his anti-transcendentalist philosophies by portraying nature as evil, creating characters that are not self-reliant, and by symbolizing complexity through the garden.

Firstly, nature is shown as evil in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Rappaccini’s Daughter, by being portrayed as evil and twisted, as opposed to pure and innocent. Doctor Rappaccini’s beautiful garden is filled with plants and flowers, but it is just a facade, because the truth is that the plants are poison. Hawthorne also shows the evil side of human nature by showing how one person can destroy the life of another. His writing in this story turns the natural feeling of love into something that poisons people. Transcendentalists, on the other hand express the importance of creating a connection with nature.

Secondly, the transcendentalist philosophy of self reliance is opposed through Doctor Rappaccini’s obsession with his daughter. Rappaccini is unable to live without her and feels a strong connection with her through his science. Not only is Rappaccini engrossed with his daughter, he is also infatuated with his science and experiments. He is so involved with his science, that he stands by and watches his daughter fall victim to the poisons he created. The characters in Rappaccini’s Daughter go against transcendentalist philosophies and do not practice individualism, which only leads to their downfall.

Lastly, the garden in which Rappaccini cultivates his concoctions is very complex. There are many different types of flowers that all need to be cared for and cultivated. Transcendentalists believe that nature is perfect as...
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