Rappaccini’s Daughter is a novella considered to be Nathaniel Hawthorne’s first foray into symbolism. Rappaccini, Rappaccini’s daughter, and Dr. Rappaccini are all symbolic of various things which the author has presented subtly throughout the story. Rappaccini represents science gone wrong, Rappaccini’s favorite garden symbolizes humankind gone wrong through unchecked scientific advances, and Rappacdni’s daughter Beatrice is symbolic of man’s search for knowledge leading to evil consequences (Moss 2).
Rappaccini has “created several hundred plants, all of them very curious… e starves them…he keeps them like goats in a cave; like prisoners in an underground den; he starves them…to make them more susceptible to the influences of his poisonous breath” (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter). Rappaccini is a mad scientist who has brought his experiments with him from Europe. Rappaccini introduces himself as “a student of alchemy, in its ancient and honorable sense” meaning Rappaccini is not really interested in creating gold but rather studying science for scientific purposes without any interest in what can be done with it practically.
Rappaccii also says “I have studied many years… to be enabled to imitate…the great masterpieces which have been wrought by the genii of earth or air” meaning Rappacinni is studying nature and her secrets and hopes to make himself a sort of “artificial man” (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter). Rappacinni is what Hawthorne would consider a scientist who has become like Rappacini. If Rappacinni were considered the naturalists then Rappaccini was his opposite; those that choose not to follow God’s plan but those that take it upon themselves as an absolute authority (Moss 2).
Rappacinni does not care for humankind and allows them access to his garden where they can be poisoned because he cares about science more than people. Hortensio, Giovanni, and Beatrice Rappaccioli are symbolic of different things in Rappaccini’s garden. Rappaccini’s “careless mode of experimenting upon life and vegetation” (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter) poisons him with the same plant he created in his garden.
Rappacinni has an unnatural attraction to his daughter Beatrice Rappaccioli who is “not quite so fair as her mother had been, but her lily was not without its whiteness or its fragrance; there was even a brilliant glow in her cheeks when seen under certain aspects of the light…but since Giovanni became tutor in the house she had paid him much attention, seeming to derive from their brief conversations some pleasure or benefit which had found no other vent” (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter).
Rappaccini’s daughter is completely isolated from everyone outside of her family and Rappaccini’s only company. Rappaccioli also seems to be attracted to Giovanni which could indicate that Rappaccini wishes for Rappaccini’s daughter, Beatrice Rappacinni, to marry Giovanni (Moss 2). Rappaccini has an unnatural attraction with his garden/daughter because it has become his whole life; thus Rappaccini would do anything to protect his science (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter). Dr. Pietro Baglioni is another character used by Hawthorne as symbolization in “Rappaccini’s Daughter”.
Baglioni is a tall “physician from Perouse” who Rappaccini asks to examine Rappacinni’s daughter. Baglioni is not a young man “the iron-grey curls which rose above his high forehead, the marks of thought and anxiety…were hardly perceptible in Dr. Rappaccini’s smooth and youthful countenance” (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter). It takes a while for Rappacinni to get Baglioni to care about Rappaccini’s daughter but when he does he cannot say much because Rappacinni already poisoned her with his science.
Baglioni is another character that represents what Hawthorne would consider scientists who have gone down the wrong path. Baglioni is interested in Rappaccini’s daughter because she is a study in Rappacinni’s garden and he cannot say much about her because Rappacinni has made Rappaccioli poison herself enough that it affects anyone who might know too much. Baglioni dies from the same science Rappacinni uses to try and protect Rappaccioli (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter).
Rappaccini’s Garden is symbolic of what Hawthorne believes to be scientists who have created something unnatural. the rare plants seemed to be endowed with qualities differing from those possessed by terrestrial vegetation…In fine, there was a fantastic beauty in these earthly dreams such as we see in the figments of oriental romance” (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter). Rappaccini’s garden is a place only Rappaccinni and Rappaccioli can enter into. Rappacinni uses his garden as an experiment to study nature but instead poisons the whole garden because he cares more about science than people.
Rappacinni does not realize that Rappaccioli has become part of this experiment until it is too late where he realizes Rappaccioli took after her father which caused their downfall (Moss 2). The interaction between Rappaccini, Beatrice, and Giovanni shows how Hawthorne would consider scientists who have gone down the wrong path with science becoming unnatural which leads to their destruction. Rappaccini has created Rappaccioli in Rappaccini’s garden and wants to use her like any other experiment.
Rappaccioli is isolated from the outside world until Giovanni comes into Rappaccinni’s life where Rappacinni believes he can get Rappaccini’s daughter to go along with his experiment (Moss 4). Baglioni represents scientists who have gone down the wrong path because, like Rappaccini, Baglioni wants to study Rappaccini’s daughter. Baglioni becomes interested in Rappaccioli’s story, but because of what has already happened to Rappaccioli it is too late for Baglioni (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter).
Rappacinni is Rappaccini’s downfall in the story because Rappacinni does not realize Rappaccioli has turned into her father until Rappaccioli poisons Rappacinni in Rappaccini’s garden (Moss 2). PLOT SUMMARY A young man Giovanni loves his neighbor Beatrice dearly. One day when Giovanni goes to meet with Beatrice he hears Rappaccini along with Baglioni talking about how much they are interested in studying Rappaccini’s daughter.
Later on, Rappaccini tells Giovanni that there is a full moon tonight and that it may be dangerous for him to come because of this. Rappaccini also warns Giovanni about it is to be around Beatrice too much without Rappaccini being present. Rappaccini tells Giovanni to visit Rappaccioli in Rappaccini’s garden tomorrow morning before the sun is up (Moss 1). The next day Giovanni goes into Rappacinni’s garden where he finds Rappaccioli sick in her room.
Rappaccinni who had already told Giovanni not to come around anymore tells him to go away which leads to Giovanni trying to help Rappaccioli no matter what. After leaving, Dr. Baglioni comes over to examine Rappaccini’s daughter and Rappacinni blames it on himself for allowing this because of his carelessness with science instead of people. With all the evidence combined Rappacinni realizes that Beatrice is Rappaccini’s daughter and Rappaccioli has turned Rappacinni into her father (Moss 2).
Rappaccni poisons himself with his creation of Rappaccioli thus creating Rappaccini’s garden becoming the only place where Rappaccioli can survive (Hawthorne, Rappaccini’s Daughter). Rappacinni advises Giovanni to leave Beatrice alone because there is nothing he can do for her now. When Giovanni asks about Rappacciolii, Rappacinni tells him that they are probably both dead now without knowing what happened between them. After this, Giovanni leaves thinking that he is responsible for Rappaccini’s death by trying to save Rappacci even though she never asked him to.
Rappaccini’s daughter poisons Rappaccini as he tries to help Rappaccioli because Rappaccioli thought that Rappaccinni was scared of her just like everyone else that Rappacinni knew (Moss 2). On the day of the full moon, Rappaccini warns Giovanni before going off on a trip for a few days and advises him not to visit Beatrice during this time. Giovanni does go over to see Beatrice one last time before Rappacinni leaves but after he leaves, Baglioni comes over where there is some tension between them about how Beatrice had been acting lately before she runs away from home.