A Renaissance Tale of Human Hubris: On the Interrelationship of Setting, Theme, and Characters in Nathaniel Hawthorne's Rappaccini's Daughter

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 52
  • Published : April 17, 2001
Open Document
Text Preview
A Renaissance Tale of Human Hubris
On the Interrelationship of Setting, Theme and Characters
in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter"

Contents

Introduction.......................................................................................................................... 1 Argumentation...................................................................................................................... 2

1. The Fantastic Elements of the Setting.................................................................. 2

1.1. The Preface as a Foretaste..................................................................... 2 1.2. The Opening Phrase............................................................................... 3 1.3. Rappaccini's Garden.............................................................................. 3

1.3.a. The Garden of Eden and the Fairytale Garden....................... 3 1.3.b. Rappaccini's Garden as a Reflection of his Hubris .................5

2. The Renaissance as Temporal Setting.................................................................. 7

2.1. Direct Hints to the Renaissance............................................................. 7 2.2. The Renaissance as an Age of Radical Changes................................... 8 2.3. Italy as Spatial Setting ...........................................................................8

3. Allusions to the Renaisance by Means of the Characters ...................................10

3.1. Beatrice and the Rebirth of the Antiquity ............................................10

3.1.a. Vertumnus .............................................................................10 3.1.b. The Noble Savage .................................................................10 3.2. Rappaccini as the Boundless Scientist ................................................12

3.2.a. Rappaccini as a Stereotypical Villain ...................................12 3.2.b. The Scientist in League with the Devil .................................12

_. Faust ...............................................................................14

_. Frankenstein ....................................................................15 _. Good Deeds .....................................................................16

_. The Artificial Human ......................................................17

Rappaccini Has to Fail .............................................18

Conclusion ..........................................................................................................................20 Bibliography

Regard his hellish fall,
Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise
Only to wonder at unlawful things:
Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits,
To practice more than heavenly power permits.

Christopher Marlowe, The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus

Introduction

"Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne was first published as "Writings of Aubépine" in United States Magazine and Democratic Review in 18441 and was republished as "Rappaccini's Daughter" in Mosses from an old Manse in 1846. Its subject is the fabulous story of the unhappy love between Giovanni Guasconti and "Rappaccini's daughter," the beautiful Beatrice2. Her father, a professor of medicine, used her in an experiment of his. As a result she's utterly poisonous and confined to her father's garden, a fantastic place where strange plants of his creation grow. Giovanni is used by Pietro Baglioni, Rappaccini's opponent, in the scientists' warfare and involuntarily helps Beatrice to kill herself as he tries to heal her. The theme of this tale is human hubris, the conflict between man's thirst for knowledge and power on the one hand and God's commandments as well as human responsibility for the creation on the other hand. I will examine the interrelationship between this theme and the story's setting which on the one...
tracking img