Rappaccinis Daughter - Book Report/Review Example

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In the short story, Hawthorne portrays low social status of women, male oppression and false social value which deprive women happiness, love and warm family relations. The short story “Rappaccini’s Daughter“ appeared in 1844, and potrays a conflict between beauty and sins so typical for most works of Hawthorne. …
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24 June 2007 RAPPACCINNI'S DAUGHTER The short story "Rappaccini's Daughter" appeared in 1844, and potrays a conflict between beauty and sins so typical for most works of Hawthorne. In this story Hawthorne depicts that in a general way, a person with a wide range of feelings has a fuller life than a person with a more restricted range, and that readers are alive when they are feeling freshly, or profoundly, or delicately; and that lack of all feeling is death and unconsciousness. Thesis In the short story, Hawthorne portrays low social status of women, male oppression and false social value which deprive women happiness, love and warm family relations.
Through the character of Beatrice, Hawthorne depicts oppression and low social status of women in the society and within the family. Beatrice suffers because of fatal experiments of her father who just kills his daughter with poisons in pursuit of medical knowledge. Hawthorne describes: "the monstrous offspring of man's depraved fancy, glowing with only an evil mockery of beauty" (Hawthorne). Also, Beatrice is isolated from the society, because of her father's bad reputation and diabolical experiments. Beatrice cannot protest and fight against male dominance and cruel experiments. Hawthorne describes that women do not have a possibility to interfere into business of their husbands or protest against the father's will. Life and destiny of Beatrice is defined and depended upon the men and her father in particular. Although men had an influence on women's behavior and exaggerated them in many life situations (O'Connor 34).
The short story is based on the conflict between beauty and sin, purity and falling. Hawthorne depicts that the feeling is not true love, but a real madness for the young fellow. The story depicts how a young man, named Giovanni Guasconti, falls in love with extremely beautiful girl, Beatrice. Giovanni exclaims: "Am I awake Have I my senses" said he to himself. "What is this being--beautiful, shall I call her--or inexpressibly terrible" (Hawthorne). Believing in original sin then at least in what it suggests, Hawthorne was convinced that all people have a dark side, a tendency to sin" (Barna 325). In the article "Survey of Criticism of "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne", Stallman comments that there are different symbolic interpretations of this short story, but "still there is no clear emerging consensus yet regarding its meaning (Stallman).
The short story depicts inner feelings of a person caused by love and emotional distress. It is possible to say that this story depicts the feelings belonging specifically to inner state of a person, and not all attain a full maturity, which implies, having some understanding of feelings, and having control over them when necessary. Beatrice says: "Thy words of hatred are like lead within my heart--but they, too, will fall away as I ascend. Oh, was there not, from the first, more poison in thy nature than in mine" (Hawthorne). An extremely valuable thing that this story does for readers is to reveal the existence of a kind of common basis of feeling, that is to say, Hawthorne forces readers to come in contact with expression of feeling in a way that is rarely possible in actual life (because so much feeling is hidden and disguised) and come to realize that others have had the same feelings as ourselves and have been able to understand them, bring them to light (Feddersen et al 34). This short story has unusual ending which "is for the reader to realize that Baglioni is as much to blame for the death as Rappaccini, that those who are "good" have as much poison in them, as Beatrice pointed out to Giovanni, as those who are evil. This, however, is suspended judgment, not suspended action" (Gerlach 87).
In sum, the society which seems solid, secure, and real, is in fact an imaginative construct created by its inhabitants and the poor relations. The irony of the situation is that everything apparently false: old traditions, values and social priorities. Hawthorne describes the situations caused by submission of patriarchal society and economic dependence of woman. Beatrice lacks love and passion, warm family relations and happiness. Great emotional sufferings and psychological tension ruin life of all characters.
Works Cited
1. Barna, Mark Richard. Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Unpardonable Sin. World 13 (1998): 325.
2. Feddersen, S. L., Lounsberry, B., Pett, S., Rohrberger, M. The Tales We Tell; Greenwood Press, 1998.
3. Hawthorne, N. Rappaccini's Daughter. n.d. 2007 4. O'Connor, F. The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story. World Publishing, 1963.
5. Stallman, L. Survey of Criticism of "Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne. 1995. 2007 Read More
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