Final Assignment: a Literary Analysis

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Literature & Health
HU 350.95H online
Winter 2013

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: A LITERARY ANALYSIS

Rappaccini's Daughter
By Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Rappaccini’s Daughter” is a fascinating short story written by Nathaniel Hawthorne about a medical scientist “Giacomo Rappaccini” who is researching exotic and poisonous plants. His daughter “Beatrice Rappaccini ” takes care of the poisonous plants for him and she too becomes poisonous. The story takes place in Padua in the medieval times. Many of the elements explored in this story are open for interpretation and Hawthorne’s play on words is amazingly cunning. The first time I read this story I walked away with many questions. This paper will attempt to interpret a theme that I believe is played out right before our eyes with religious symbolism, romantic imagery and characterized biblical undertones. What I find compelling about this story is how it can remain relevant in the 21st century. Hawthorne had a reputation for exploring the limits of what was considered acceptable by society during that time. His colorful depiction of details and his ability to tell a story and develop relatable characters is why his stories resognate with audiences today. I believe “Rappaccini’s Daughter” is an attempt by Hawthorne to illuminate the biblical equivalent to Adam and Eve but with a twist. I will break down the following elements which I feel helped to paint this colorful picture. My Theory

I believe Hawthorne is playing out the story of Adam and Eve with a twist. Giovanni is “Eve”, Beatrice is “Adam”, Rappaccini is “God” and Baglioni is Satan. I believe that Giovanni (Eve) is obsessed with Beatrice (Adam) and Baglioni (Satin) knows that Giovanni will do anything to be with Beatrice because he confides in him about how he feels. Baglioni (Satin) sees this as an opportunity to take down Rappaccini’s (God) creation by killing Beatrice (Adam) by offering a cure that Giovani (Eve) can offer to Beatrice (Adam)dies from drinking the potion “forbidden fruit” and Baglioni “Satin” wins in the end because of temptation on the part of Giovanni to Beatrice. Baglioni sees this as an opportunity to take down “Gods” creation “Eve” so he gives the potion to Giovani knowing that he will try to save his companion. This leads to the Beatrice drinking the potion to be with Giovanni forever and ever but this cure actually kills her because the poison has become to much of who she is. Baglioni who knows that the potion will kill her but gives it to him anyway plays Once he has “plucked” her he has accepted sin, this is symbolized by the poisonous gas that Beatrice breaths which has now been passed to him as they both make insects die. This meaning that he has been tainted. I will attempt to break down the many layers of this argument by discussing a few elements and quotes that support my theory and in the end you

He alludes to a rivalry with Rappaccini, accuses Rappaccini of being interested only in his experiments and of Rappaccini's desire to replace Baglioni at the university with his daughter just as Satan sees God as an aloof observer intending to replace his angels with mankind. Baglioni attempts to "foil Rappaccini where he little dreams of it" just as Satan resolves to use deception against God, rather than risk a direct attack. Later, Baglioni admits he seeks to thwart Rappaccini, even while admitting that Rappaccini is, in truth, a "wonderful man," basically stating the representatives of good and evil in the story for the reader to see.

may draw your own conclusion. I was once told by someone I respect that “the great thing about literature is that it is open for your

with the forbidden fruit “herb oil”

interpretation and there is no wrong answer” so maybe this discussion will help you see my view at the very least.

The following three elements are defined to help us understand Hawthorne’s use of them. Elements
Symbolism – when...
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