2. A Comparison of Hawthorne’s Short Stories “The Birthmark” and
3 “Rappaccini’s Daughter”
3.1 The Role of the Scientist
3.2 The Role of the Wife and daughter
3.3 Nature vs. Science
In the main part of the following paper with the topic “Two Mad Scientists: A Comparison of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Short Stories “The Birthmark” and Rappaccini’s Daughter” I will offer a comparison of selected aspects, since the space is limited. First of all I will concentrate on the comparison between Aylmer, the scientist which is presented in Hawthorne’s short story “The Birthmark”, and Giacomo Rappaccini, the scientist appearing in “Rappaccini’s Daughter”.Furthermore I will give a comparison of both of the female characters, which are the victims of the scientists. On the one hand there is Georgiana, Aylmer’s wife, and on the other hand there is Beatrice Rappacini, the daughter of Giacomo Rappaccini. After I named similarities, as well as differences between the two scientists and also between their wife and daughter, I will concentrate on the symbols “nature” and “science” and how they are represented as contrasts within the two short stories. A Symbol in discussing literature is defined as “a word or phrase that signifies an object or event which in its turn signifies something, or suggests a range of reference, beyond itself.” Thus symbols can give the reader a deeper impression of the meaning of the short story and that is way I chose to focus on two of the main symbols within Hawthorne’s short stories. At the end of the following paper I will give a conclusion, which summarizes the most important facts and also evaluates the aspects of the main part.
2. A Comparison of Hawthorne’s Short Stories “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter”
2.1 The Role of the Scientist
The two scientists Aylmer and Rappaccini, which both are main characters in Hawthorne’s short stories “The Birthmark” and “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, have several qualities in common. Both of them are presented as god-like scientists and very successful. Aylmer is described as “an eminent proficient in every branch of natural philosophy” and also Rappaccini is said to be a “famous doctor” and absolutely skilled in his profession. Either one of them is striving after perfection concerning their wife’s and daughter’s beauty. Aylmer married a beautiful woman who has a hand-shaped birthmark on her left cheek, which bothers him so much that Aylmer wants to remove his wife’s birthmark. In his eyes the birthmark is “the visible mark of earthly imperfection” and also the only defect of his wife, who “came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature”. Therefore he wants to remove it with the help of scientific methods to make his wife, who actually likes the birthmark, perfect. Also Dr. Rappaccini uses his scientific skills to make his daughter, in his eyes, an object of perfection. Hence they both have the plan to create a consummate human being with the help of science. In addition both of them make someone who is important to them their object of scientific impact on nature. Aylmer risks his wife’s life by removing her birthmark while Dr. Rappaccini doesn’t care if his daughter is happy with the way of life which he has chosen for her to live. Both of the scientists, Aylmer as well as Dr. Rappaccini, have to learn at the end of the short stories that their beloved wife and daughter paid their husband’s and father’s scientific obsession with their lives. However, despite the many similarities between Aylmer and Dr. Rappaccini, there are also a few crucial differences. While Aylmer wants to make his wife a perfect human being by removing her “symbol of imperfection”, Dr. Rappaccini uses at first his only his daughter as a subject for his scientific experiment...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document