man and woman looking at one another and the woman is filled with plants and vines that are creeping into the man's body

Rappaccini's Daughter

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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How does Giovanni's character evolve in "Rappaccini's Daughter"?

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“Rappaccini's Daughter” is a story about Giovanni, who is beautiful and loves Beatrice. He becomes fascinated with her and watches her from above as she tends her garden next door. He is at first attracted to her and then repulsed by the idea that she may be poisonous. He meets her, and she warns him away from touching a flower in her garden.

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The beautiful Giovanni becomes fascinated with the beautiful Beatrice as he watches her from above tend her flowers in the garden next door, alternatively attracted to and repulsed by her. Although warned against it, he meets her—and is surprised when she puts a hand on his arm and warns him away from touching a flower in her garden.

At first he disregards the idea she could have become poisonous as part of an experiment of her father's; he thinks that idea is too fantastic, though he does see that plants and insects seem to die around her.

When Giovanni notices that he himself might be poisonous, such as when he breathes on a spider and it dies, he begins to change.

As worry about what she might have done to him overtakes any concern for Beatrice, Giovanni begins to turn on her hatefully, resenting her and blaming her for her effect on him. He says to her that she has made him “as hateful, as ugly, as loathsome and deadly a creature” as she is. He becomes suspicious of her, thinking she deliberately lured him into the garden to be poisoned so that he would be stuck there, and she would have a companion. His harsh words wound Beatrice, and he becomes unable to see that she is a good person. She keeps telling him that she is pure and virtuous inside, despite her poisonous effect on plants and animals, but Giovanni becomes obsessed with the idea of her being evil and poisonous. At the end of the story, as Beatrice suggests, Giovanni has developed more poison in his personality than she has ever had.

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