Free Argumentative Essay About Symbolism And Allegories In “Rappaccini’s Daughter”
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Thesis statement: The elements of symbolism and allegory dominates in the Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story; “Rappaccini’s Daughter”. These literary elements help the reader to appreciate relatively and comprehend the message of the story. Additionally, Hawthorne used symbolism and allegories to make the story appear reality.
“Rappaccini’s Daughter” is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1844. The story concerns a medical researcher who worked at medieval Padua, a key city in northern Italy. Hawthorne’s work was grounded at Dante’s Divine Comedy as well as the Garden of Eden. Virtually, it is argued that the form of Hawthorne’s short story tends to be unusual when regarded in the context of 19th century American/British literature. Precisely, it is a story told by an omniscient narrator who highlights own authority with the tendency to espouse and moralize general truths “all of which attributes were bound down and compressed, as it were, and girdled tensely, in their luxuriance, by her virgin zone" (Hawthorne 3). At first, the content of the story appears typical, with its distinctly-Hawthorne features. As such it is darkly romantic, symbolic and unabashedly allegorical.
In the context of the literal sense, Nathaniel Hawthorn’s story regards rivalry between two researchers that eventually destroys an innocent young woman. Nevertheless, when the story is analytically examined from a symbolic perspective, the reader finds out that Rappaccini’s Daughter is indeed an allegorical reenactment of the initial fall from purity and innocence in the Garden of Eden (Hawthorne 31). Rappaccini’s garden lays the foundation of this allegory, whereas the characters in the story each represent the substantial figures from the original account "There was one shrub in particular, set in a marble vase in the midst of the pool, that bore a profusion of purple blossoms” (Hawthorne 2). Through the employment of literary devices of descriptive and poetic diction, Nathaniel Hawthorne expresses the symbolism of these characters together with the setting.
This short story is a tragic story of love. In addition, just like other works written by Hawthorne, it involves the determined themes of humanity as well as its need to manipulate nature or try to perfect it. Almost all the scenes are set in a garden formerly cultivated by Dr. Giacomo Rappaccini and Beatrice; his daughter. Additionally, other scenes are set in an apartment adjacent to the garden, streets of Padua and the University where the professor of medicine resided. Despite the fact that Hawthorn opens the story in a humorous manner, it is relatively clear that it weaves the beginning threads of an allegory art.
Nathaniel Hawthorne is somewhat depicted as a symbolic writer especially in regard to his “Rappaccini’s Daughter”. On the other hand, this author embraces the use of allegory in this particular work. First, this paper will begin by examining how symbolism is used in the short story. One of the overwhelming symbolisms that transpire throughout the story is the purple plant as sister to Beatrice. In essence, the purple plant is seen for the first time when Dr. Rappaccini is wandering in the garden. When he sees the purple plant, Dr. Rappaccini draws near to the plant.
Dr. Rappaccini calls her daughter to come and touch the plant irrespective of the fact that he had gloves and Beatrice had none. He says, “Daughter of my pride and triumph," (Hawthorne 20) this means that he just wants to use for his benefits. Contrarily, Beatrice herself appears as one of the flowers in the way she dresses and the nature of her skin tone. Precisely, Beatrice is wearing a purple dress; just like the plant that her father called her to take care of. This scenario expresses a relatively unique symbolic situation. When Beatrice goes near the plant, she attends to it with joy as her sister. Technically, the story describes that Beatrice hugs and tends to the plant affectionately as if it was indeed a sister.
As the story transpires, it is evident that the story is not far from the truth. Primarily, the plant with purple flowers was planted on the day Beatrice was born. Thus, it can be referred as her sister as well. As such, symbolism is evident as the two seems to be one and anything that happens to one of them happens to the other. As one reads the story, it becomes clear that irrespective of the fact that the evil doctor made an Adam purposely for his daughter Eve, she will not do anything, touch anyone or go anywhere outside the jurisdiction of the garden.
Arguably, Rappaccini fails to understand that he has made two beasts, and soon one of them will know the truth hence hating the other. In addition, the fountain is used symbolically “certain grave objections to his professional character” (Hawthorne 36). To be more specific, despite the fact that the fountain was ruined, it contained sparkling water flowing within. Virtually, water is considered as a symbol of life. In this respect, it can stand for life continuing irrespective of ruin and death. Again, water is symbolic of cleansing and rebirth. Thus, it can represent the human soul or spirit. While dying Beatrice said, “But now it matters not; I am going, where the evil that thou hast striven to mingle with my being” (Hawthorne 12) Like the fountain, humans are flawed creatures and cannot avoid death but there exist purity within them that flaw.
Furthermore, Beatrice symbolizes how men perceive women as a danger and beauty. Beatrice is kind and innocent, caring and generous. Giovanni interrupted “’Beatrice,’ asked he abruptly, ‘whence came this shrub?’ ‘My father created it,’ answered she, with simplicity. ‘Created it! created it!’ repeated Giovanni. ‘What mean you, Beatrice?’” (Hawthorne 664) Again, her beauty cannot be compared with anything yet she is deadly and poisonous. Typically, this is how women were perceived that time. Nonetheless, Hawthorne does not disagree but tries to state that despite the risks associated with women, their benefits outweighs the dangers. He argues that through women people know real love and care.
On the other hand, Hawthorne employs allegory throughout the story. Specifically, one of the definite examples is the allegory of science. Since the onset of the Enlightenment period, the West has had an improbable thirst for knowledge. Man has always been searching for knowledge since the beginning of the world. However, the search for knowledge steadily increased during the Enlightenment period. In most cases, the outcome of knowledge emerges with a great price (Hawthorne 28). In the context of “Rappaccini’s Daughter”, Dr. Rappaccini turns his daughter into a scientific experiment. Due to the high quest for knowledge, Rappaccini decided to risk the safety of her daughter in order to attain some extreme understanding. Unfortunately, this scientific experiment leads to the death of his daughter.
Moreover, another allegory emerging from the story is the allegory of faith. Essentially, Beatrice is innocent throughout Hawthorne’s story. Giovanni is another scientist; he becomes the first young man to touch Beatrice physically. Ultimately, Beatrice falls in love with Giovanni. Usually, scientists base their facts on facts rather than faith, “’And must I believe all that I have seen with my own eyes?’ asked Giovanni pointedly, while the recollection of former scenes made him shrink.” (Hawthorne 658). On her side, Beatrice has faith. Faith is a belief in anything that cannot be justified or proven in any way. When he realized that he had already been infected, Giovanni illustrates the lack of faith, hence hurting Beatrice. “And must I believe all that I have seen with my own eyes," (Hawthorne 30) Giovanni said these words to show his disregard for having faith. Overall, allegories of faith and science in Hawthorn’s work are excellent.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Rappaccini's Daughter. Charlottesville: U of Virginia Library, 1996. Print.
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