Describe the most impressive plant in the garden  "Rappuccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappuccini's Daughter," there is one shrub that is set in a marble vase in the middle of the pool of the fountain which bears "a profusion of purple blossoms," that are luxuriant, lustrous and rich like gems.  The entire plant seems so magnificent that it brightens the entire garden without the aid of any other light.  This splendid plant Beatrice calls her "sister" as she opens her arms as though to embrace it.  As Giovanni watches Beatrice and the afternoon wanes, it seems as though there is "an oppressive exhalation" proceeding from the plants and coming up to his window.

The next day, Giovanni looks out at the garden and sees the "gorgeous shrub that hung its gem-like flowers over the fountain." Then, Beatrice appears, arraigned much like the plant in a dress of similar hues.  Approaching this resplendent shrub, Beatrice opens her arms and gathers the branches into an intimate embrace, so intimate that her face is hidden in the plant's bosom.  When she cuts a flower to wear that has the dazzling effect of a gem, a drop of liquid falls onto an unsuspecting lizard, and it writhes and then dies. 

Later, as Giovanni enters the garden, Beatrice appears and speaks with him.  As they converse, they move close to the deadly plant.  "For the fist time in my life...I had forgotten thee," Beatrice says to the plant.  Now in love with a man, Beatrice thinks not of the gorgeous plant.  Seeing them, Dr. Rappaccini enters the garden and tells Beatrice that Giovanni now can join hands with her.  In fact, he can wear the magnificent purple leaves as they will no longer harm him.

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Rappaccini's Daughter

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