Giovanni and Aylmer demonstrate manipulation of authority over women in order to pursue their unhealthy infatuation with scientific experimentation. The capability to exercise this desire while controlling another human’s life threatens the Romantic ideal of love for the natural world.
Both stories exemplify the thrill inherent to the ability of exerting dominance over a human being to alter them to a perfect, insuperable counterpart. Rappaccini, though possessing paternal sentiments for his daughter,
cares infinitely more for science than for mankind. His patients are interesting to him only as subjects for some new experiment. He would sacrifice human life…of adding so much as a grain of mustard-seed to the great heap of his accumulated knowledge. (“Rappaccini’s Daughter”)
Egotistic in nature, Rappaccini finds no harm in placing his desires before the welfare of others, as apparent through his captivity of Beatrice. Written in a time when patriarchal society was valued and allowed for control of women socially, economically, and psychologically, both stories reflect the gender relations between man and woman. To Rappaccini, an intellectual is automatically granted power, and he finds no better way to put his plans to gain power into action through his daughter whom he knows will be acquiescent. Beatrice replicates the submissive stereotype of females when her father remarks that, “shattered as I am, my life might pay the penalty of approaching it so closely as circumstances demand. Henceforth, I fear, this plant must be consigned to your sole charge” (“Rappaccini’s Daughter”). She readily agrees to perform this otherwise hazardous task her father orders her to do, since obeying him is so innate to her. Possessing paternal power over his daughter, Rappaccini instills an ideology of female weakness into his vulnerable daughter, eternally enslaving her to him. He is both her creator and assassin; she has no option but to pledge her allegiance to him. Ruthless and ambitious, Rappaccini views knowledge as a necessity because he views it as the gateway to ultimate possession over those lesser than him-this is his means to power. His attempt to gain supremacy unfolds when he reveals that his “science, and the sympathy between thee [Beatrice] and him [Giovanni], have so wrought within his system, that he [Giovanni] now stands apart from common men, as thou [Beatrice] dost, daughter of my [Rappaccini’s] pride and triumph, from ordinary women” (“Rappaccini’s Daughter”). Rappaccini’s deviousness works to his advantage; his yearn for control of humans begins with his attempt to imprison Giovanni into his paradisiacal garden of fatality. Similar to Rappaccini’s aspiration of creating human perfection, Aylmer forces his preferences for Georgiana’s beauty upon her, exerting his power as her husband. This is exemplified when he tells Georgiana that she “came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature that this slightest possible defect,...