Criticism Of "Rappaccini's Daughter" By Nathaniel Hawthorne

6317 words - 25 pages

Kayla Sade Maria HeadleyLIT-201-001 (American Lit. to 1880)Professor Altschuler18 October 2013 Criticism of "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel HawthorneAll of the features characteristic of Hawthorne's fiction are present with a vengeance in "Rappaccini's Daughter": ambiguity, symbolism, allegory, the Gothic, fantasy, the shallow young hero, the vital female character, the Faustian and diabolical character, the theme of faith, the theme of science, the presence of morality, the conflict between head and heart, the breaking of the chain of humanity, and even perhaps the unpardonable sin. Given all of this, one might well decide that "Rappaccini's Daughter" is not only the most problematic of all of Hawthorne's tales, but also the most characteristic.There has been no general agreement as to the tale's interpretation and there is still no clear emerging consensus yet regarding its meaning. It has aroused a bewildering array of conflicting interpretations. The tale's meaning has been construed to be pro-Transcendental and anti-Transcendental. Beatrice has been regarded as a heavenly angel and a fatal seductress. Giovanni has been characterized as a Puritan and an artist figure. Rappaccini has been deemed both God and Satan. And Baglioni has been seen as an ineffectual Christ and a Iago-like figure.Connections with other texts are numerous. As far as other Hawthorne works," Rappaccini's Daughter" has been linked to The Scarlet Letter , The House of Seven Gables , The Blithedale Romance , Fanshawe , The Marble Faun , "The Birthmark," "Young Goodman Brown," "The Artist of the Beautiful," "Drowne's Wooden Image," "The Minister's Black Veil," "The Maypole of Merry Mount," "Alice Donne's Appeal," "Ethan Brand," "Lady Eleanor's Mantle," "The New Adam and Eve," "The Devil in Manuscript," "Egotism, or the Bosom Serpent," "The Intelligence Office," and "Roger Malvin's Burial." Major emphasis has been placed on the text's relationship to Dante's The Divine Comedy and Purgatorio , and to the Bible stories of Genesis and Adam and Eve. Connections have also been made to Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Ligeia," Milton's Paradise Lost , Emerson's Nature , Spenser's The Faerie Queene , James' The Turn of the Screw, Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress , Holmes' Elsie Venner, and Shakespeare's Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet . The fate of Beatrice has been correlated to those of the heroines in works such as The Awakening , The Bell Jar and A Streetcar Named Desire .Roy Male's traditional Christian interpretation of "Rappaccini's Daughter" in Hawthorne's Tragic Vision is perhaps the most popular reading of the tale. He finds the moral of the story to be that if man is to develop full human potential, he must accept either the woman or the dual promise she represents: tragic involvement with sin but also the consequent possibility of redemption (54).Symbolically, the plants in the garden mimic God's creation in an "evil mockery of beauty." The water in the fountain...

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