Hawthorne starts the story with a short description of the literary style and work of imaginary Monsieur L’Aubepine, the author of “Rappaccini’s Child”.
Giovanni Guasconti, a boy from southern Italy, comes to Padua to pursue a University education. His room, a high and gloomy chamber in an old mansion, is desolate however for a sole window, which neglects a gorgeous garden. The garden, the youth is informed, belongs to Signor Giacomo Rappaccini, a well-known physician who distils the plants from his garden into medications. In the center of the stunning garden is one particularly fascinating plant– a large shrub with purple blooms set in a marble vase.
While peering through his window, Giovanni spies the medical professional working in the garden. The physician, a tall, old, emaciated and sickly looking man, analyzes each plant with medical intentness; he does not treat the plants with feeling, avoiding both their smells and their touch. As the medical professional nears the purple plant, he puts on a mask, however as if finding the task of tending to the plant to be still too dangerous, he calls for his child, Beatrice. He gives up care of the plant to his daughter, who, as noticeably gorgeous as the plants around her, busily begins to tend to the poisonous plant as if it were a sibling. That night, Giovanni dreams about Beatrice; in the dream, “flower and maiden were different, and yet the very same, and filled with some strange hazard in either shape”.
The next day, Giovanni meets Signor Pietro Baglioni, a teacher of medicine and Giovanni’s daddy’s old pal. He tells Giovanni that Physician Rappaccini is a dazzling researcher with an objectionable character, as he cares more for science than for humanity and would happily sacrifice the lives of others for intellectual gain. Baglioni makes fun of Giovanni’s interest in Beatrice; while all young men are “wild” about her, few have had the fortune of seeing her. Baglioni recommends that Beatrice has learned at her father’s feet which “she is already certified to fill a teacher’s chair”. On the way house, Giovanni happens to pass a flower designer and purchases a bouquet of flowers.
Back in his space, Giovanni sees Beatrice pluck among the blossoms from the purple shrub. A few drops of wetness from the plant fall upon a passing lizard, killing it instantaneously. Beatrice seems unsurprised, and fastens the dangerous bloom to her bosom. Soon thereafter, Beatrice stops to appreciate a beautiful bug– which immediately drops dead, seemingly at her breath. Giovanni witnesses these scenes with wonder and scary, however hardly has time to respond prior to Beatrice sees him spying on her from the window. He throws down the arrangement of flowers; she thanks him, and runs away. As she leaves, Giovanni believes that he sees the flowers already withering in her grasp.
For days after this encounter, Giovanni prevents the window, with feelings of both worry and love alive in his heart. He required to going through the streets, his pace matching the rate of thoughts whirling about in his brain. One day, he is overtaken by Baglioni, who is surprised at his rush. Medical professional Rappaccini passes him, and the look in his eye informs Baglioni that Giovanni has become the subject of one of the Physician’s experiments. Giovanni does not want to accept this possibility, and breaks away from the old teacher.
On his method home, Giovanni is come by Lisabetta, an old woman who showed him his room when he initially moved to the city. Lisabetta leads him to the garden’s secret entryway; for a minute, the idea asses Giovanni’s mind that this might be part of the physician’s experiment, however it seemed “absolutely needed” that he continue into the garden.
Inside the garden, Giovanni and Beatrice start to talk. She points out that she knows nothing of her dad’s science, and asks Giovanni to think only what he sees with his own eyes. Strolling through the garden, they stop at the purple plant. Giovanni extends his hand to pluck among its blossoms, however Beatrice grasps his hand and flings it away from the plant, exclaiming that it is “deadly”. Beatrice flees, and Giovanni sees the Medical professional viewing them from the shadows. When Giovanni woke up the next day, his hand in discomfort from her touch, a purple outline of her fingers visible on his skin.
After numerous conferences with Beatrice, Giovanni is visited one day by Teacher Baglioni, who discusses the odor of a strange perfume in Giovanni’s room. Baglioni informs Giovanni a story of an Indian prince who sent a woman as a present to Alexander the Great. This woman was lovely, but had a fatal secret– she had been nurtured with toxin because birth, so that her being ended up being poisonous and her accept would bring death. Baglioni informs Giovanni that this is Beatrice’s trick too, a truth Giovanni hesitates to accept. Baglioni offers Giovanni a vial with an antidote, which he advises Giovanni to offer to Beatrice and treat her of her daddy’s work. After showing his visitor the door, however, Giovanni finds that flowers wilt at his touch, and a spider dies from his breath. He realizes that he has actually now become toxic, like Beatrice.
In the garden, he faces Beatrice about the plant. She reveals that her dad developed it, which she knew of its dangerous powers– and of its effect on her. Giovanni curses her for severing him from the world and intentionally enchanting him into the exact same dreadful state. Beatrice is stunned, and seriously distressed by this. She swears lack of knowledge, and although Giovanni pertains to believe her, his words had actually already injured her deeply. Giovanni does not understand the weight of his words and believes he can still save her; he provides her the antidote, which she willingly drinks. At that very same immediate, her daddy appears. He informs her that it was nor a curse, however rather a gift, to be made as “awful” as she was beautiful. But, Beatrice retorts that she would rather have been enjoyed than feared. As she sinks to the ground, she reminds Giovanni of his despiteful words, and asks him, “existed not, from the very first, more poison in thy nature than in mine?” The poison in her body had actually become part of her life; the antidote succeeded not in conserving her but in killing her. Baglioni, looking forth from the window, is both triumphant for finally beating Rappaccini at his own video game– but likewise horrified at the outcome.
Hawthorne begins this story with a preamble about the French “author” of the tale – a man by the name of l’Aubepine. In French, aubepine is the name for a flowering shrub known in English as hawthorn. “Rappacini’s Child” begins with a literary joke which calls attention to Hawthorne’s function as storyteller, and continues with allusions to works such as The Divine Funny and the Bible. Beatrice, the title character, is a recommendation to Dante’s guide through Paradiso in The Divine Comedy; Giovanni’s own relative is rumored to have been the motivation for one of Dante’s characters; Rappaccini’s garden is described as the “Eden of today world”. Beatrice’s undoing at the end of the story is sped up by her loss of innocence; when she understands that she is toxic, she chooses to pass away.
The story’s tragic end shows that Beatrice’s death is the product of the ambitions of 3 guys. Her dad, Doctor Rappaccini, may be thought about a callous scientist who, as Baglioni would have us think, offered his child up as a clinical experiment. Rappaccini’s real motivations, nevertheless, are revealed in his final words to his child:
“My child, thou art no longer lonesome worldwide! Pluck one of those valuable gems from thy sister shrub, and bid thy bridegroom use it in his bosom. It will not harm him now! My science, and the sympathy between thee and him, have so wrought within his system, that he now stands apart from commoners, as thou dost, child of my pride and triumph, from ordinary ladies. Pass on, then, through the world, most dear to one another, and dreadful to all besides!”
Beatrice, nevertheless, regrets her condition, to which Rappaccini replies:
“What suggest you, foolish girl? Dost thou consider it torment to be endowed with wonderful presents, versus which no power nor strength could avail an enemy? Torment, to be able to stop the mightiest with a breath? Torment, to be as awful as thou art beautiful? Wouldst thou, then, have chosen the condition of a weak female, exposed to all evil, and efficient in none?”
In these words, Rappaccini demonstrates that he meant not to hurt his daughter, however rather safeguard her from the evils of the world. In a sense, he can be considered as the most devoted of dads, utilizing his resourcefulness and know-how to fashion a long lasting defense mechanism for his daughter. On the other hand, in his last exchange with Beatrice, he does not appear to understand why his daughter would choose to live a regular and defense-free human being. Instead, he naively thought that bringing Giovanni into her very same state so that the 2 might live an insulated life together could make her happy. How could such a smart researcher misunderstand the requirements of the human heart?
Giovanni, too, is not what we initially see. Rather of a youth in love, he is simply surpassed with curiosity, lust, and vanity. In fact, his interest in Beatrice can, in such a way, be compared to Rappaccini’s interest in science, and Baglioni’s interest in the old guidelines of medicine. All these guys care for one thing, however in pursuing it, overlook its real foundation. Giovanni rashly blasts Beatrice, demonstrating that his love for her was ridden with doubt and wonder about, showing his own shallow and self-centered nature. Rappaccini aims to protect his child, however in doing so, neglects her individual interests. And Baglioni, while claiming to promote the good rules of medicine that secure human life, invest suspicions into Giovanni’s mind and provides him with the really “medication” that eliminates Beatrice, making him just as wicked as Rappaccini in the end.
This story bears a comparable lesson to those learned in much of Hawthorne’s other works. Particularly, it cautions against what might happen to man when, in the mission for scientific or intellectual development, he “efforts to usurp the function of God,” a lesson observed in “The Birthmark” and “Ethan Brand”. Some have argued that the story is an allegory for the Fall of Male in the Garden of Eden, with Rappaccini as Adam, and Beatrice as Eve. Although in Hawthorne’s tale Rappaccini contaminates Beatrice and not the other method around, the argument has actually been made that possibly Hawthorne transferred some of Eve’s function to Adam as he did not fully accept the Scriptural description. As is the case with Georgiana in “The Birthmark”, Beatrice does not have agency over her own life – only her death. Here, Hawthorne is subtly critiquing the gender roles of his time. Rappaccini and Giovanni’s desires to manage or change Beatrice cause her mess up, a fate she accepts.