Rappaccini's Daughter is a story with a great deal of meaning behind it. Throughout the story, Hawthorn coveys the theme about loss of innocence and purity and uses symbolism, characters and diction convey his theme along with strong reference to religious entities. In the literal sense, Nathaniel Hawthorn's Rappaccini's Daughter is the story about the rivalry between two scientists that ultimately causes the destruction of an innocent young woman. However, when the story is seen on a symbolic level, you can depict that Rappaccini's Daughter is a reenactment of the original fall from innocence and purity in the Garden of Eden. Rappaccini's garden sets the stage, while the characters of the story each represent the important figures from the biblical story. The story takes place in mid-nineteenth century in Padua, Italy and revolves around two major settings; the mansion of an old Paduan family, and Rappaccini's lush garden. The mansion is described as, "high and gloomy", "the palace of a Paduan noble" "desolate and ill-furnished". (Hawthorn; 223) This description establishes a dark mood throughout the story.
Furthermore, Baglioni speaks with Giovanni in this mansion chamber and tries to manipulate him in his attempt to destroy Rappaccini. In a sense, the dark and gloomy mansion symbolizes the domain of evil. The second major setting is the garden. "There was one shrub in particular...that bore a profusion of purple blossoms, each of which had the luster and richness of a gem...seemed enough to illuminate the garden, even had there been no sunshine...some crept serpent-like along the ground or climbed on high". (Hawthorn; 224) In this passage, the author depicts the liveliness and beauty of the garden in an almost fantasy-like way, a fantasy too good to be true and destined to end in the most tragic way. Hawthorne directly compares this beautiful garden to Eden when he writes, "Was this garden, then the Eden of the present world?" (Hawthorn; 225) Therefore,...
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