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Literature Related to "Rappaccini's Daughter"

<I>Beata Beatrix</I> by D.G. Rossetti
Beata Beatrix by D.G. Rossetti (courtesy of the Tate Gallery, London)

Excerpts from the story "Rappaccini's Daughter" 1844, 1846 [from Mosses from an Old Manse 1846, 1854) :

  • This excerpt introduces Beatrice to the reader and to Giovanni Guasconti, watching from the hidden shadows of his bedroom window, as the beautiful, spirited young woman who is obedient to her father and solicitous of the flowers, moves through the garden.

  • This excerpt reveals Giovanni's second glimpse of Beatrice, and her dual nature is revealed. Her physical appearance and her personality are full of beauty, simplicity, and sweetness. She seems to have purposefully twinned herself with the "gorgeous shrub" that her father must avoid. On the other hand, her breath and touch very sinisterly kill or weaken a lizard, an insect, and the bouquet Giovanni throws to her.

  • This excerpt describes the tortured delight that Giovanni feels about Beatrice. Like a youthful suitor, he in infatuated with her and can think of nothing else. On the other hand, his memory of her poisoning innocent insects, plants, and animals horrifies him.

  • This excerpt shows the beginning of the courtship between Beatrice, delighted to have human contact, and Giovanni, bewitched by this beautiful, literally untouchable young woman. Beatrice, in an effort to save him from the touch of the fatal shrub, "leaves a burning and tingling agony in his hand."

  • This excerpt describes how Beatrice and Giovanni's chaste reciprocated love flourishes. This stage of the courtship is bliss.

  • This excerpt follows the scene in which Signor Pietro Baglioni continues his efforts to poison Giovanni's mind and heart against Baglioni's rival Dr. Rappaccini and his daughter. Giovanni decides to test Beatrice and determine whether she is pure and innocent or evil and poisonous. " now, his spirit was incapable of sustaining itself at the height to which the early enthusiasm of passion had exalted it; he fell down, groveling among earthly doubts, and defiled therewith the pure whiteness of Beatrice's nature."

  • This excerpt follows the scene where Giovanni has discovered that his breath also poisons innocent flowers and insects. Giovanni rushes to accuse Beatrice but is momentarily halted by "recollections of many a holy and passionate outgush of her heart." However, Giovanni destroys Beatrice emotionally, saying, "with venomous scorn and anger 'And finding thy solitude wearisome, thou hast severed me, likewise, from all the warmth of life, and enticed me into thy region of unspeakable horror!'" Giovanni is incapable of recognizing her innocence.

  • This excerpt, the conclusion of the story, describes Beatrice's suicide by taking Dr. Baglioni's antidote. Dr. Rappaccini is incapable of realizing that he cursed his daughter when he had intended to protect her from the "condition of a weak woman, exposed to all evil, and capable of none." Curiously, Giovanni remains silent as Beatrice passes to a better world.

Full text of "Rappaccini's Daughter"

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