Rappaccini's Daughter Questions and Answers
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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What elements in "Rappaccini's Daughter" characterize the romantic movement?

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Just as some Romantic writers were interested in portrayals of love and sublimity, some Romantic writers were interested in portrayals of other kinds of intense emotion: darker, rougher, or more evil emotion.  Hawthorne, rather than focusing on the parts of humanity that seem to connect us with the divine, preferred to focus on the darker aspects of our nature, the aspects that might horrify or unnerve us to see laid bare. 

We see, in Giovanni Guasconti, both an ability to love (or at least to feel something which is the "cunning semblance of love which flourishes in the imagination, but strikes no depth of root into the heart") as well as an ability to despise and destroy.  Worse yet, he can despise and ultimately destroy the one he loves.  One implication of the story is that this dark side of his nature, of human nature in fact, is the stronger of the two.  At the very least, this darkness is bound up with our nature in such a way that we must cease to exist without it; this is...

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