In “Rappaccini's Daughter,” give an explanation on Giovanni and his antidote for Beatrice. In “The Birth Mark,” explain Alymer and his magic liquid for his wife Georgiana.

In two stories by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a male protagonist claims to love a female character but insists on changing her, which leads to her death. In “Rappaccini's Daughter,” Giovanni gives Beatrice an antidote for a poison that she has been ingesting, but it kills her rather than cures her. In “The Birth Mark,” Aylmer tries to remove a birthmark which he believes mars his wife’s beauty. Drinking his potion fades the birthmark, but she dies when it disappears.

Expert Answers

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Nathaniel Hawthorne’s stories “Rappaccini's Daughter” and “The Birth Mark” have many similarities, especially in regard to their domineering male protagonist’s insistence on achieving their own desires and in the resulting death of the female main character. Both stories are love stories in which the misguided male character tries to change nature but instead kills the woman he loves. Another similarity is that both plots involve the man giving the woman a liquid to drink.

“Rappaccini's Daughter,” is about unfulfilled love, as Giovanni tries to get the unmarried Beatrice away from her manipulative father. In “The Birth Mark,” however, Aylmer and Georgiana are already married, and the husband becomes obsessed with what he regards as improving on his wife’s beauty.

Other ways in which the stories are not similar but not parallel involve the character of the father, Rappacini, who is featured in the title. In some ways, he is more like Aylmer than Giovanni is. For example, both men are scientists who recklessly go beyond acceptable boundaries in their experiments. It is the father who tried to control his daughter’s future, rendering her unfit for any man to touch, much less marry. Aylmer, who believes he loves his wife, ostensibly objects to the birthmark because it renders her imperfect, but he is also jealous of the alluring it effect it had on other men before they married.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on March 2, 2021
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