How is the story related to Romeo and Juliet?"Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are several parallels between Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter" and Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:

  • Protected closely by her father, Beatrice has a beautiful, ethereal appearance, but is forbidden to Giovanni much like Juliet
  • Giovanni, like Romeo, is smitten by Beatrice's beauty and "lips [that] are true from the depth of the heart outward." There is a very erotically charged attraction between Giovanni and Beatrice, Romeo and Juliet 
  • Hawthorne writes, "After the first interview, a second was in the inevitable course of what we call fate."  After their first meeting,even knowing that they are enemies, the second meeting seems destined by fate for Romeo and Juliet, who meet despite warnings from others.
  • Giovanni, like Romeo, is "irrevocably within her sphere and must obey the law that whirled him onward." So infatuated with Beatrice is Giovanni that he forgets the warnings of Professor Baglioni, much like Romeo who ignores the advice of Friar Laurence.
  • Like Romeo, Giovanni seeks to defy fate--"dearest Beatrice our fate is no yet so desperate.  Behold!  There is a medicine...."  When he learns of Juliet's supposed death, Romeo cries "I defy you, fate!" and rushes to join Juliet.  Tragically, he and Juliet die, as Beatrice, who takes a potion, too, dies.
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Rappaccini's Daughter

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