When Giovanni first sees Beatrice, he has the impression that she is "another flower, the human sister of the vegetable ones," because she is as beautiful as they are but seems likewise dangerous. Giovanni watches her handle and inhale the scent of several plants that her father "had most sedulously...
When Giovanni first sees Beatrice, he has the impression that she is "another flower, the human sister of the vegetable ones," because she is as beautiful as they are but seems likewise dangerous. Giovanni watches her handle and inhale the scent of several plants that her father "had most sedulously avoided." Her father turns over the "sole charge" of one flower to Beatrice because, he says, it might cost him his life were he to continue to approach "it so closely as circumstances demand." It has no such effect on the young woman, even when she opens her arms to embrace it. She speaks to the flower, calling it her "sister," and says that the flower's "perfume breath" is the "breath of life" to her. Even having seen evidence of Beatrice's strange nature, Giovanni wonders how much to chalk up to his "fancy," or imagination; "he was inclined to take a most rational view of the whole matter."
Later in the story, Giovanni sees a small orange reptile die as a result of being struck with moisture from the same flower; although its little body violently contorted, Beatrice is not surprised, and when she places the flower in her bosom, it has no malignant effect on her. He also watches as an insect flutters near Beatrice for a moment and then fall dead, apparently due to "the atmosphere of her breath." Giovanni wonders if she is "beautiful" or "inexpressibly terrible." I do believe, at this point, that I would think of Beatrice as possessing some kind of strange nature, just as he seems to. When he gives her a bouquet of flowers, they seem to wilt in her arms. The narrator says,
Whether or no Beatrice possessed those terrible attributes—that fatal breath—the affinity with those so beautiful and deadly flowers—which were indicated by what Giovanni had witnessed, she had at least instilled a fierce and subtle poison into his system. It was not love, although her rich beauty was a madness to him; nor horror, even while he fancied her spirit to be imbued with the same baneful essence that seemed to pervade her physical frame; but a wild offspring of both love and horror that had each parent in it, and burned like one and shivered like the other.
I think I would begin to draw the same conclusions that Giovanni does, unbelievable as they may seem at first.