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In her lecture "Work and Money in Hawthorne's Fiction" delivered at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site on October 20, 2000, Claudia Durst Johnson, Professor emeritus, University of Alabama, comments on the nature of male ambition in "Rappaccini's Daughter."

"Hawthorne's references to vocation accomplish far more than the setting up of character types. The tensions of his fictions are markedly intrinsic to vocation. Dimmesdale's single-minded ambition to be the perfect, even saintly, clergyman, for example, leads him to sacrifice love and truth to sustain a reputation and self-image of purity and piety which he finds suitable for his calling. Baglioni's ambition as a science professor leads him to compete with Rappaccini for the bright young protégé, Giovanni, and to thwart his rival's experiment at the expense of a young woman's life." (used with author’s permission)

Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/10369/

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