What are some critical questions of the relationship between non-human life forms and human beings in "Rappacini's Daughter" and "The Yellow Wallpaper"?
In "Rappaccini's Daughter," it becomes clear that Beatrice is the character that enjoys the most significant relationship with non-human life forms or the natural world. She is depicted as something of a femme fatale, but what distinguishes her from other such female characters is her essential goodness, as she does not mean to destroy. Even though the purple flower that her father created has such a capacity to cause harm and to kill, Beatrice still loves it, because she, unlike Giovanni, recognises that beauty and evil live together. They do in the flower and in her own character. Hawthorne uses her relationship with the natural world to cement a key theme, which is the way that we all need to accept the beauty and the evil that live both within ourselves and within each other. Beatrice, ironically, sees that Giovanni's nature contained "more poison" than her own character does, yet she still drinks the antidote, knowing that her life will end.
In "The Yellow Wallpaper," the key relationship between human and non-human is developed through the feelings of the narrator towards the yellow wallpaper that oppress her so. Clearly we recognise that these feelings are a product of her own situation and imagination, and yet the bars in the yellow wallpaper and the way she imagines seeing a woman trapped behind it come to so totally define her feelings of being entrapped and restricted that in the end, the narrator assumes the character of the woman that she imagines seeing behind the wallpaper:
I supposed I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, ant that is hard.
In this story, the relationship between the human and the non-human is therefore expressed through the way in which an inanimate object (the wallpaper) becomes so symbolically important to help us understand the character of the narrator.