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In "Rappaccini's Garden and Emerson's Concord: Translating the Voice of Margaret Fuller " from Hawthorne and Women: Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition, Thomas R. Mitchell connects Giovanni's passion and horrified fascination with Beatrice to Hawthorne's complex relationship with Margaret Fuller.

"Any entrance into Rappaccini's garden is clearly fraught with the humbling suspicion that we are following perilously in Giovanni's footsteps, carrying with us our own vial of interpretative poison. This is as Hawthorne would have it. Struggling to complete the tale that he had begun sometime in mid-October of 1844, Hawthorne read the unfinished manuscript to Sophia: ‘But how is it to end?’ she asked him. ‘Is Beatrice to be a demon or an angel?’ ‘I have no idea!’ Hawthorne replied with emotion. Hawthorne, in fact, ended the tale by condemning the very desire to conclude it, to fix himself to an ‘idea' that, by the falsity of a reductive certainty, would unravel the ‘riddle’ of Beatrice. But then he began the tale for that very purpose, for the riddle of Beatrice had become for Hawthorne inseparably bound, as he writes of Giovanni, with the ‘mystery which he deemed the riddle of his own existence’ (CE 10:110). The sources of the legendary complexity of the tale, I would contend, originate in the very complexity of the ‘lurid intermixture’ (CE 10: 105) of emotions that Margaret Fuller had aroused in Hawthorne by October of 1844, emotions that would erupt most explicitly and disturbingly in 1858, eight years after her death, when gossip about her handsome but ‘clownish husband’ would ignite Hawthorne into seeking, as he called it, the ‘solution of the riddle’ of Fuller's character (and perhaps of his longtime fascination with her) in her inability to forever suppress or refine the ‘rude old potency' of her sexuality" (CE 14:156-57) (Mitchell 75-76). (courtesy of University of Massachusetts Press)

Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/10495/

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