Rappaccini's Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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What is the theme of Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter"?

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lizbv eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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There is an additional underlying theme that goes beyond good vs. evil that considers the idea of feminist gender theory which claims that females in literature exist as one of two characters: the Eve figure, or evil temptress such as that portrayed in the Garden of Eden, or the Mary figure, the angelic motherly type. Beatrice stands as an embodiment of both in that she is truly a Mary in that she is good and innocent in her intentions, but her poisonous side (created in he by her father Rappaccini) is representative of the evil seductress Eve. Beatrice, therefore, demonstrates how a woman can be a representation of good and evil simultaneously. This also raises the question of whether any woman can be wholly good or wholly evil.

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troutmiller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The theme circles around the Garden of Eden and how the experiment in the story is created in such an atmosphere.  The daughter is so extremely beautiful, yet she is deadly.  Giovanni knows that something is not quite right with her.  The flowers she holds wither, and the insect dies when near her breath.  He knows that she is not as she seems.  Yet, he is compelled to try to join her and save her.  Just like the forbidden apple, the daughter Beatrice should not be taken by Giovanni.  She should be left.  His professor tries to talk him out of going after her.  However, his temptation only leads to her death.

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bheardjr | Student

Good vs. Evil

Science as only goal. The idea of evil does not enter Dr. Rappaccini's mind.

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