man and woman looking at one another and the woman is filled with plants and vines that are creeping into the man's body

Rappaccini's Daughter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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Explain what Dr. Rappaccini wanted to do for Giovanni and Beatrice with his science.

In "Rappaccini's Daughter," Dr. Giacomo Rappaccini wanted to use his scientific skills to protect Beatrice and Giovanni from harm by making them immune from poison, but dangerously toxic to the rest of humanity.

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In Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story "Rappaccini's Daughter," Dr. Giacomo Rappaccini is a brilliant scientist who cultivates poisonous plants which he uses to create medicines. Rappaccini is a cold, detached personality, who is interested primarily in the advancement of knowledge rather than in personal relationships. However, his daughter, Beatrice, is an exception to this rule, being even more important to him than his medical experiments. Rappaccini has raised Beatrice to help him in his work and through the practice of Mithridatism, administering poison to her slowly and carefully, has made her immune to the poisonous plants with which they work.

Dr. Rappaccini's plan for his daughter, therefore, is complete protection and immunity from toxic substances, perhaps even leading to immortality, or at least to greatly prolonged life and health. Unfortunately, this makes her toxic to other people, as well as to non-poisonous plants and animals around her. When Giovanni falls in love with Beatrice and she with him, Rappacini is prepared to include his daughter's suitor in his bizarre experiment. His idea for both of them, therefore, is that they should live together, both poisonous to others, but protected from poisons themselves. Beatrice, however, says that such a life would be a "miserable doom" rather than a blessing, and that she does not want to live in safety if it means being feared by the rest of humanity.

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