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Rappaccini's Daughter


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Allegorical tale by Hawthorne, published in 1844 and reprinted in Mosses from an Old Manse (1846).

Giovanni Guasconti comes to study at the University of Padua and lodges next door to the house of Giacomo Rappaccini, a doctor. In the latter's garden he sees and falls in love with Rappaccini's daughter Beatrice, whose beauty strangely resembles that of her father's poisonous flowers. Pietro Baglioni, a friendly professor, warns Giovanni that Rappaccini's love of science has led him beyond moral or humane considerations, and that the girl's nature seems a product of his sinister art, but the young man is undeterred. Under the scientific regard of her father, the affection of the two grows deeper, and Giovanni himself becomes tainted by the poisonous breath of the garden. Then he gives Beatrice a potion that Baglioni has supplied him as an antidote to all poisons. She drinks it, but “as poison had been life, so the powerful antidote was death; and thus the poor victim of man's ingenuity and of thwarted nature … perished there, at the feet of her father and Giovanni.”

Subjects: Literature.


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