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ERIC Number: ED043622
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1970
Pages: 8
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
The Levels of "Rappaccini's Daughter."
Hands, Charles B.
Maryland English Journal, v8 n2 p3-10 Spr 1970
Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Rappaccini's Daughter" reflects the author's view that inherent in the human dilemma are ambiguous ironies which cannot be resolved. Although Hawthorne (unlike Ralph Waldo Emerson) perceives evil as an extraordinarily potent force, he offers no clear moral solutions in this story, but examines various dimensions of the problem of evil. The story concerns the blighted love of two beautiful "innocents," while the theme raises the question of which is real, appearance or substance, by simultaneously developing a sense of physical voluptuousness and spiritual love. The idyllic garden with its central poisonous shrub and life-nourishing fountain provides a traditional setting for the four characters, each of whom is enmeshed in his own sin. The moral tangle is clarified, but not resolved, when Beatrice is killed by an antidote she takes to rid herself of her "inherited" poison. Each of the three men in the story is guilty of her death, though each has acted in good faith--Rappaccini, because he experiments with human beings to add to his scientific knowledge; Giovanni, because he urges the fatal antidote on Beatrice to perfect her; and Dr. Baglioni, because he eagerly provides the antidote in a fit of professional jealousy for Rappaccini. (DB)
Publication Type: N/A
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: N/A
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Maryland Council of Teachers of English, College Park.