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“Rapaccini’s Daughter” Relevance To Modern Times

1620 words - 6 pages

In Nathanial Hawthorne’s short story “Rapaccini’s Daughter” the theme of dangerous knowledge is acknowledge through his detailed explanation of the stories setting. The central idea of dangerous knowledge makes this story still popular in today’s culture because it is still a relevant worry among humankind. “Rapaccini’s Daughter” is about two lovers from a metaphorically separated world who cannot be together because Beatrice, the woman in the garden, is literally poisonous to everything she touches except for Rapaccini’s plants. By the end of the story the main character Giovanni becomes poisonous himself and tragedy befalls the lovers as Giovanni gives Beatrice what he thought was an antidote to cure them both but ends up being a sort of poison due to her nature of being a poison herself. Hawthorne wrote “Rapaccini’s Daughter” in the early 1800’s and he used it to warn about the dangers of the Industrial Revolution and how unchecked scientific experimentation and technology could bring about the downfall of humanity. Hawthorne wrote “Rapaccini’s Daughter” as a romantic gothic story to bring the elements of love and tragedy to explain how tragedy comes of greed, lust for power and selfishness. He was a writer of some renown and by the style of “Rapaccini’s Daughter” had always tried to tie his stories with a moral lesson to ponder once read. What makes the story so powerful is Hawthorne’s detail of the garden which is where most of the story takes place and holds all the symbolism readers must understand to grasp the theme of the story.
. Hawthorne had put much work in his detailing of Rapaccini’s garden to help guide the reader to his main theme of dangerous knowledge. First Hawthorne put a lot of symbols in the story to help relate the situation that the characters were in or felt. The first symbol was the garden that most of the story took place in and was based on the famous Christian symbol The Garden of Eden. Rapaccini’s unearthly science of creating an artificial garden of poisonous plants helps to invoke a feeling of how dangerous unchecked science can be and how unnecessary it can be. Hawthorne also described it as The Garden of Eden to symbolically say that the results of the experiments are a sin of nature and should not be accepted by a societal norm. It also makes the reader feel uncomfortable and trapped because originally The Garden of Eden was suppose to be enclosed from the rest of the world and never seen by anything outside of it. Another symbol that is expressed is the color purple. Throughout the story Beatrice always wears the same colored purple even as weeks pass by. The color of the most mysterious flower in the garden, which turned out to be artificially created by Rapaccini himself, was also the color purple. The color purple has multiple meanings in this story with the first one being that it paradoxically symbolizes both life and death because the color purple is made by the mixture of the color blue and red; blue...

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